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Full text of "Rock Valley College student local history research, Spring 2001"

ROCK VALLEY 
COLLEGE 

ENGLISH COMPOSITION 
LOCAL HISTORY SUMMARIES 



SPRING 2001 




15 May 2001 

Welcome to "CHAPTER II" of a collection of student work from RVC's English 
Composition One class, completed during the Spring 2001 semester. 

Included in this collection are the following topics: 



Bauman Park (Cherry Valley) 

Beattie Park 

Beef-A-Roo 

Brooke Rd. Methodist Church 

Byron Nuclear Plant 

Camp Lowden (Oregon) 
Children's Home of Rockford 

City Hall (Old Rockford) 
Erlander Home 

Essex Corporation 
Faust Hotel 
Girl Scout Office 







"The Hidden Paradise of Bauman Park's 
Golden Pond" by Diana Johnson 

"Ancient Indian Mounts in Beattie Park" 
by Kristina Bernard 

"Cooking It Just For You!" by Elizabeth Olson 

"The Timeless Path of Brooke Road United 
Methodist Church" by Michele Dobbs 

"A Lasting Impression: The Byron Nuclear 
Plant" by Laura Fitts 

"Camp Lowden BSA" by David J. Picchi 

"Almost Like Home: The Children's Home of 
Rockford" by Debra Stiles 

"Rockford's Old City Hall" by Brad Donnelli 

"The Erlander Home: Rockford 1 30 Year 
Swedish Immigrant Home" 
by Beth Halfman 

"The Essex Corporation" by Steven Taylor 

"The Faust Hotel" by Stephanie Peterson 

"Two Groups Sharing One Building: Church of 
the Christian Union and the Rock River 
Valley Council of Girl Scouts" 
by Barbara Thomas 




3301 NORTH MULFORD ROAD • ROCKFORD, IL 61114-5699 • (815) 654-4250 • FAX (815) 654-4254 

http://www.rvc.cc.il.us 



Glen Haven Mill 



"The Glenn Haven Mill" by Faith J. Long 



Illinois State Police Post 

Lockwood Park 
Metro Centre 
Midway Village 

Rock Cut School 
Swedish-American Hospital 
Times Theater 



"District 16: Illinois State Police Past & Present 
Integrity, Service, Pride" 
by Scott Gredenius 

"Lockwood Park's Children's Farm" 
by Errika Kerwin 

"History of the Rockford Metro Centre" 
by Gary McGhee 

"Turn of the Century Rockford: The Midway 
Village & Museum Center" by 
Lisa Grindle 

"The History of Rock Cut School" 
by Deborah A. Bailey Keller 

"Swedish-American Hospital: Dream to Reality" 
by Mary Puhl 

"Moments of Time: History of the Times 
Theater" by David Diaz 



The Hidden Paradise of Bauman Parks Golden Pond 



Diana Johnson 

Spring semester 2001 

Rock valley college English composition I 



Johnson 1 
The Hidden Paradise of Bauman Park's Golden Pond 

Cherry Valley, Illinois, is such a small town that it should be easy to get to Bauman Park. 
A traveler probably would not even need directions other than how to get to Cherry Valley, 
Illinois. But without directions one might also drive right past the hidden paradise of Bauman 
Park. 

Since directions for Bauman Park are a prerequisite, the trip starts from the CherryVale 
Mall. The mall provides a convenient starting point for the visitor unfamiliar with Cherry 
Valley. The CherryVale Mall sits northeast of the corner of Perryville and Harrison Roads. 
Take the exit in front of Marshall Field's to Harrison, turning left and then passing by several 
green and white signs for the tollway and routes leading to Chicago, Freeport and Wisconsin. 

Driving east of the mall, the visitor notices the Cherry Valley water tower looming on the 
right side of the road. The next landmark is a sign that points to the town of Cherry Valley. 
Turn right on Mill Road. Soon after the turn, a welcome sign appears on the left, stating that the 
historical village of Cherry Valley was founded in 1835. At the next stop sign, turn left onto 
West State Street. Proceed over the bridge that cradles the car above the Kishwaukee River. As 
the tires vibrate from the railroad tracks on the pavement, the visitor is entering the west side of 
downtown Cherry Valley. Past the train tracks, on the left side of the street, stands the green 
Cherry Valley clock. At the intersection of State and Walnut Streets, where the Sincerely Yours 
Gift Shop is located, turn right. 

Immediately behind the gift shop on the right, the visitor discovers a baseball field, the 
first visible sign of the park. According to longtime Cherry Valley residents, in the 1950s people 



Johnson 2 
watched movies projected on the baseball scoreboard. Imagine coming to this baseball field in 

the summertime to see an outdoor movie! 

Continuing south on Walnut Street, the visitor sees the entrance sign to Bauman Park on 
the right hand side of the road. Turn right! From the entrance, Bauman Park may not look much 
like a park or even like an oasis from the noonday sun. Equipment barns stand on the left. But 
on the right, further south of the baseball field, a tennis court emerges and beyond that a 
children's playground. 

Beyond the trees, on the right, the Kishwaukee River glides along in the distance, 
winding its way southwest to the Rock River. A large earthen mound rises to the left of the road, 
and straight ahead is a parking lot. The shelter, restrooms, and the handicapped parking are 
beyond these markers. Finally, when one walks a little farther along the path, the gazebo and the 
lake come into view, revealing the entrance to the hidden paradise of Bauman Park's own 
Golden Pond. 

From the days of the first pioneers, the residents of Cherry Valley had to fight the 
proximity of the Kishwaukee River. Springtime floods quickly changed the direction of the 
Kishwaukee River and the water flooded into the lowland south of the village, and the existing 
Bauman Park. The Cherry Valley Gazette reported that in the summer of 1 938, "The rain 
Sunday night flooded the island between the mill race and the Kishwaukee River about three 
feet. Mrs. Schafer has a cottage just south of the train bridge and the water was about eight feet 
from the main bridge and about three feet from the old interurban bridge. The mill basement was 
flooded. Ross Clifford and Lester Ullrich took a boat to rescue a neighbor man who was 
marooned by the water. The boat hit a tree and tipped over, forcing the men to swim to shore." 



Johnson 3 
Let's start at the beginning, before the village of Cherry Valley bought the land where 

the lake now exists. Freda Austin owned the land, approximately 75 - 80 acres. According to 

the Cherry Valley Village Clerk, Nancy Belt, the Village Board purchased eighteen to twenty 

acres of land from Mrs. Austin in the early 1970s. The village thought this parcel of land might 

be tillable; however, the area proved undesirable as farmland. 

"Now that you have a dead horse, what are you going to do with it?" This was the 
question that the Cherry Valley Village Board posed after the land purchase. The village 
engineer, Odd Johnsrud, began a feasibility study on the land that included several soil borings in 
1975. Farming ceased in this area during the 1970s because of seasonal flooding and gravelly 
subsoil conditions, but Johnsrud determined that the area was an ideal location for a sand and 
gravel pit that the village could later develop as Bauman Park Lake. 

The birth of Bauman Park Lake occurred at the same time in history as the first discovery 
of debris from the Titanic in the North Atlantic. These events took place in 1985, the Titanic 
expedition by Robert D. Ballard, and the Bauman Park Lake project by Village of Cherry Valley 
and the Cherry Valley Sand and Gravel Corporation. Mr. Steve Carter, owner of the corporation, 
was one of the contractors instrumental in developing Bauman Park Lake. Both discoveries 
involved a mixture of water, dirt, sand and a cooperative effort between all parties. 

The ten-year project of Bauman Park Lake was not without blood, sweat, and tears. In 
1980, the Village of Cherry Valley requested proposals to extract the sand and gravel from this 
location. One proposal quickly caught their eye. A gentleman by the name of Mr. Steve Carter, 
owner and operator of the Cherry Valley Sand and Gravel Corporation, proposed that his 
company do the work on a labor-exchange basis that was sealed with a contract. Interestingly 
enough, no money changed hands between the Village of Cherry Valley and the Cherry Valley 



- 



Johnson 4 
Sand and Gravel Corporation for this project. Contractually, certain requirements had to be met 

in order to maintain this, "You-help-me, ITl-help-you" arrangement. The Cherry Valley Sand 

and Gravel Corporation paid for all the equipment, labor and operating expenses for this venture. 

In exchange for every cubic yard of water that flowed into the pit, the Cherry Valley Sand and 

Gravel Corporation received one cubic yard of sand and gravel. It was a win- win proposition. 

Cherry Valley liked the idea of a labor exchange and approved the contract with the 
Cherry Valley Sand and Gravel Corporation. Four different administrators renewed this ongoing 
ten-year extraction contract with Mr. Carter's corporation over its lifetime. As far as opposition 
to this project is concerned, the contractor, Mr. Steve Carter, explained to me that although not 
everyone was totally happy with what they were doing, there were no village fights or 
community uproar over the development of the sand and gravel pit that later became Bauman 
Lake. No controversy arose concerning any adverse environmental impact on the area, and the 
lake eventually enhanced the scenic appeal of Bauman Park and the Village of Cherry Valley 
itself. 

What an exchange! Mr. Carter removed 2.4 million tons of Class X aggregate, the 
highest possible grade of rock, gravel, and sand and Cherry Valley gained a beautiful twenty-five 
acre, twenty-five foot deep lake for a water-orientated recreational area. This area emerged as a 
limestone-floor lake with a gently sloped shoreline and a stock of bass. Although the lake is not 
suitable for swimming, the eastern shore has approximately thirteen hundred feet of sandy beach 
for visitors to enjoy. The lakeshore also has a 1 .4 mile paved bicycle/walking trail that circles 
the water, with benches constructed of exposed aggregate in various locations along the path for 
resting and meditation. The village created an observation hill out of a clay-covered gravel 
stockpile, sodding it for a quick grass cover. During Bauman Park's Master Plan, phases one to 



. 



- 



Johnson 5 
five, a total of three thousand trees were planted from 1985 to 1991 . The trees were an 

assortment of deciduous shade, ornamental, evergreens and flowering shrubs. This foliage in the 

park offers visitors shade and protection from the wind. Cherry Valley also built a large, open 

gazebo as a place visitors can gaze at the lake or stop and enjoy a picnic lunch it its shelter. This 

area was formerly the hub of a very busy mining operation, the approximate site of the gravel 

crushing pit. Extraction of the sand and gravel took place by means of a drag line dipping from 

the water. Let's see how this operation got its start. 

Mr. Steve Carter started his career operating heavy equipment in the Korean Conflict, a 
war in which he earned a Purple Heart for his meritorious actions while being wounded three 
times. As a child, he had grown up on a farm and was used to operating different types of 
equipment. When he got to Korea, the officer of the command post asked Mr. Carter about his 
experience in operating equipment. Was he used to operating light equipment or heavy 
equipment? Steve thought that most of the equipment on the farm was heavy in weight, so he 
answered heavy equipment. That answer led him eventually to become the owner of the Cherry 
Valley Sand and Gravel Corporation. Previous experience as co-owner of a sand and gravel 
company served him well. His company began business about the same time as the Village of 
Cherry Valley was looking for a contractor for its proposals. Steve knew that his career had 
turned in the right direction and that he had a last opportunity for a good contract. Mr. Carter 
said, "Up to this point I had been saving up all my marbles to do this one last job'XCarter, 3-26- 
01). All his marbles were turned into the heavy equipment that was needed for the Cherry 
Valley Sand and Gravel Corporation. 

The Cherry Valley Sand and Gravel Corporation volunteered to work with the Illinois 
Department of Mines and Minerals. Linda Hiltabrand, an employee of the Department of Mines 



Johnson 6 
and Minerals, worked closely with Mr. Carter and his company for over ten years. A state 

permit is usually required for such projects, but the corporation was exempt from the state's 

reclamation laws. They did not require a state permit because the corporation would not have 

more than ten feet of overburden or affect more than ten acres annually. Overburden is dirt or 

topsoil that exists above the underlying sand and gravel. Mr. Carter agreed to keep the Illinois 

Department of Mines and Minerals up-to-date with progress reports, because as he says, "I 

wanted the job done right the first time"(Carter). Consultation was also done with Infratek 

Engineers, Incorporated and Thomas Graceffa and Associates, landscape architects. 

Done right, it was. The State of Illinois touted this plan as a reclamation project, in 
which 'Voluntary cooperation between Cherry Valley Sand and Gravel Corporation and Illinois 
Department of Mines and Minerals Land Reclamation Division allowed for development of site- 
specific resources to achieve a productive and regionally important post-mine use"(March, July 
17, 1999). So productive and important was the project that Mr. Carter's corporation won two 
awards. One was the Illinois Mined Land Reclamation Award, Non-Coal Category for 1991 . 
Illinois Governor Jim Edgar nominated the Cherry Valley Sand and Gravel Corporation for the 
second award, "Winner of Interstate Mining Compact Commission National Mine Reclamation 
Award, Non-Coal Category, given for dedication to maintain environmental protection by 
efficient mining and reclamation practices"(Illinois Department of Mines and Minerals, 8). Mr. 
Carter's results exceeded normal requirements for the State of Illinois Surface Mined Land 
Conservation and Reclamation Act. All topsoil was saved for final reclamation, the landscape 
was arranged and the park was fully developed. 

Mr. Carter's blood, sweat and tears paid off. From the years 1980 to 1990, all his energy 
and resources went into the Bauman Park Lake project. Every year the Bureau of Design and 






Johnson 7 
Aerial Survey took aerial photographs of the park that show the progress of the excavation was 

slow and steady. The lake began to take on more and more area as the years went by. Mr. 

Carter's lifetime of experience in operating heavy equipment had finally paid off. He did not 

lose his investment as his wife thought that he would, and despite going through a divorce and 

physical ailments including two heart attacks and bleeding ulcers during the ten year project, Mr. 

Carter did not lose sight of his goal. He lined up all his marbles in a row and took his best shot. 

It paid off. The end result is Bauman Lake, the crowning jewel of Bauman Park, one of the most 

scenic recreational parks in Winnebago County today. 

Bauman Park offers a wealth of activities for both adults and their children. A six-week 
summer recreational program is offered for children from six to twelve years old. Arts and crafts 
along with field trips are some of the activities enjoyed during this program. On Saturday, May 
5, 2001 children from eight to fifteen years old competed in a Spring Fishing Tournament. 

The Fourth of July bicycle parade begins from Bauman Park at one o'clock and proceeds 
to the library. Bicycles are decorated to the best of the participants' abilities. The Cherry Valley 
families and other visitors converge once again at dusk to view the Fourth of July fireworks. 

Unlike the Titanic, the evolution of Bauman Lake was certainly no disaster at sea, and it 
also proved to be much more than a dead horse. While Robert Ballard was uncovering the tragic 
secrets of the sinking of the Titanic, the Village of Cherry Valley was working with local 
industry to create a Golden Pond, an aquatic jewel in the rural setting of the Kishwaukee Valley. 
The surrounding parkland, enclosed by trees and fences, surprises the visitor with its quietness 
and solitude. Because Bauman Park is set off in its own separate surroundings, a visitor feels 
that he has found his or her own ''special" park that no one else knows about, a "hidden 
paradise." 






Johnson 8 
Works Cited 

Belt, Nancy. Personal Interview. 6 February 2001. 

Carter, Steve. Telephone Interview. 26 February 2001. 

Carter, Steve. Personal Interview. 19 March 2001. 

Carter, Steve. Telephone Interview. 26 March 2001. 

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia , "Titanic", 1994, 2000, Columbia University 

Press, "Online", AOL, 25 February 2001, Available: www.factmonster.com. 
Conrad, Greg. Press Release. Interstate Mining Compact Commission. 27 August 1991. 
Conrad, Greg. "IMCC 1991 Annual Awards Banquet." Letter. 8 August 1991. 
Ehret, Paul, J. "IMCC Reclamation Awards Application." Letter. 9 July 1991. 
Hiltabrand, Linda, M. "1991 Reclamation Awards Program." Letter. 5 August 1991. 
Illinois Department of Mines and Minerals. M & M Matters . 3.2 (1991): 7-8. 
Johnson, Diana. Personal Recollection. February 2001. 
Johnson, Diana. Photograph. 1993. 
March, Elizabeth. Press Release. Illinois Department of Mines and Minerals. 17 July 

1991. 
Osterhuber, Ernest. Aerial Pictures. Bureau of Design and Aerial Survey. 1980-1991. 






Appendix 

Aerial photographs of the Bauman Lake project 

Pictures of Mr. Steve Carter receiving awards 

Lake view pictures of Bauman Lake 



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Ancient Indian Mounds in Beattie Park, Rockford 

Kristina Bernard 

Spring Semester 2001 

Rock Valley College English Composition I 









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Bernard 1 

Kristina Bernard 
English 101 

Revised Archival Essay 
May 8, 2001 

ANCIENT INDIAN MOUNDS IN BEATTIE PARK. ROCKFORD 

Beattie is a place to go and relax. The place is filled with old, tall, 
towering trees. The Park has an open-air gazebo where people picnic, an 
anchor from the heavy jack cruiser in U.S.S. Tuscaloosa, and what are left of 
Ancient Indian Mounds from prehistoric time. There is a path along the Rock 
River for taking a walk and just enjoying the beautiful scenery. There is a Navy 
Memorial on the south end of the Park. 

One of the most interesting historical sites in Rockford is little known to 
many of its citizens - Beattie Park, located at Park and Main Street. The conical 
and linear mounds were once common throughout the eastern United States. 
Very few of these types of mounds remain today. Numerous mounds once 
covered the Rockford area. 

Some clues on how to get there. At the intersection of E. State & Charles 
/ Jefferson Street. A familiar place is a Mobil / McDonald's on the right. At that 
intersection, take a right and curve around through many intersections that traffic 
lights are in sequence with one another. 

Crossing over the Rock River on the Jefferson St. Bridge, the first 
intersection over the bridge is Jefferson St & Wyman. Take a right (there will be 



Bernard 2 

a turn lane) onto Wyman. Wyman dead-ends at Beattie Park. Take a right onto 
Park Avenue (at the yellow sign with an arrow pointing the opposite direction). 
Park your car anywhere on the left-hand side. The car will be facing Beattie 
Park. 

This journey through the town of Rockford is worth it. Beattie Park is a 
mark of history that dates back 12,000 years ago. The five mounds near Beattie 
Park are all that remain of a string of 1 1 -constructed in prehistoric time. No one 
knows for sure what is in the mounds, but many are believed to elaborate graves 
for important members of a clan ("Respecting.."). 

Beattie Park is the home of four ancient Indian burial mounds. Two of 
them are conical, one is a turtle effigy mound and the fourth is a linear mound. 
These carefully shaped mounds have been known to contain tools, pottery and 
burials. Although it cannot be known for sure, archeologists date the mounds 
between 500 B.C. and 1500 A.D. The mounds are believed to have been built 
by prehistoric Indians who moved to the Rock River Valley about 10,000 years 
ago when the last glaciers melted. The mounds were constructed sometime 
between 1400 and 700 years ago by peoples of the Mound Building Culture who 
populated the Mississippi River and the Great Lake regions. Until the invasion 
of the Euro/American immigrants, conical mounds such as these existed in the 
hundred of thousands from the Atlantic seaboard to the Rocky Mountains. 
Evidence of their presence has been discovered throughout the community in 
unearthed stone tools and pieces of pottery ("Native.."). 



Bernard 3 

No one knows the purpose of the mounds or mound building. Theories 
include spiritual activities relating to the burial of a loved one. Others believe it 
was a seasonal activity planned to draw people together from other areas. One 
thing is certain, the mounds are evidence that other civilizations lived on these 
lands before us. 

The Indian Mounds on the property granted to the City of Rockford 
by the Misses Anna & Mary Beattie for a park dated back to historical time of the 
Mound Builders who are said to have constructed them. The special type is 
called an effigy mound ("Mounds..."). 

At one time there were 51 effigy mounds at 35 different sites 
across seven Illinois countries. Of those, only five mounds remain today. The 
Beattie Park site is the only one of the five, which is open to the public. The City 
of Rockford, the Rockford Park District and the Burpee Museum of Natural 
History are to be commended for their efforts to preserve these now rare images 
of the past ("Native..."). 

Conical and linear mounds are common throughout the eastern United 
States, and most effigy mounds are found in Wisconsin, Northern Illinois and 
Ohio. The Beattie Park mound is the only effigy mound still intact on public 
lands in Illinois ("Indian..."). 

The effigy mound is in the shape of a turtle, which may symbolize 
something about the identity of the people who built it, said Lynda Johnson, a 
former education director for the Burpee Museum of Natural History. Effigy 



Bernard 4 

mounds are built in the shapes of animals, including bears, birds and turtles. A 
typical effigy is 3 to 4 feet high, 20 feet wide and 75 feet long ("Where .."). 

Conical mounds are simply round domes of earth, 2 to 10 feet high and 
20 feet in diameter. They can be found throughout the upper Mississippi River 
Valley. Cigar-shaped linear mounds are 2 to 4 feet high; 6 to 8 feet across and 
can reach 100 feet in length. Compound mounds are conical mounds connected 
by linear mounds. This technique may have marked a transition between the 
freestanding conical and linear styles. Compound mounds usually contain three 
or four linked conical mounds ("Where.."). 

Placed approximately north and south the most interesting mound 
is that in the shape of a lizard. It is about 123 feet long, 30 feet wide and 4 feet 
high. A professor once remarked when he examined it that the head was 
missing. The Misses Beattie are said to have accounted for this loss by telling 
that they wore the effigy's head off while sliding down the mound when both 
were young girls ("Mounds..."). 

The other important mound is just slightly longer than that of the lizard 
and has been said to favor a snake. This interpretation of the shape would be in 
keeping with what is known of like mounds, for most of these were patterned 
after some animal. There is another small, round mounds ("Mounds..."). 

The tribe of people who built these mounds usually traveled from place to 
place along rivers it has been stated by authorities, they built mounds along the 
Rock, Fox and Illinois rivers in this state. The effigy mounds were not built for 
burial purposes, but were built to honor some important personage of the tribe 



Bernard 5 

whose symbol was that of the animal, which the mounds portrayed. Smaller, 
round mounds were used for burial purposes. Thus, it has been said, the small 
mound of the site of the Beattie homestead may be the burial place of some of 
these prehistoric persons ("Mounds..."). 

The squaws of the tribes built the mounds by carrying the material 
half a cubic foot at a time, in a pouch slung over their backs. That these Mound 
Builders had some knowledge of astronomy, even if in a prehistoric way, is 
shown by the locations of the mounds. Most of them are clearly placed north 
and south, as is the case with those in Beattie Park. It's likely the Beattie 
mounds were built by Woodland Indians, who had a lifestyle based on hunting 
and gathering ("Mounds..."). 

Through the openhandedness of the last Misses Anna & Mary Beattie, the 
Rockford Park District came into possession of the Beattie homestead, at N. 
Main & Park Avenue. A deed to the property, which was approximately four 
acres and is said to be valued at $100,000.00 was delivered to the Park Board. 
The Board accepted this deed and they passed the following resolution 
("City..."). 

"WHEREAS, Mary I. Beattie and Anna Beattie heretofore by deed 
of gift conveyed to the Rockford Park District the "Beattie Playground" 
which for many years has been a source of pleasure to Rockford's boys 
and girls and will continue to be to coming generations. 

AND WHEREAS FURTHER, during their lifetime they also 
executed and delivered in escrow to Messrs. Edward P. and Robert 



. 






Bernard 6 

Lathrop a deed of gift of their valuable homestead in North Main Street to 

the Rockford Park District, with instructions to deliver the same to the 

Board of Commissioners of said district at their death. 

AND WHEREAS, after living beautiful lives of unselfish deeds and 

service, both have entered into rest and such deed was duly delivered to 

the Board this 15 th day of February, A.D., 1921. 

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that such deed be and the same 

is hereby accepted subject to all its terms and conditions, and ordered of 

record; that steps be forthwith taken to make the premises conveyed a 

place of rest and relaxation with nothing tending to disturb those seeking 

peace and quiet there, and that the tree and mounds thereon be sacredly 

preserved. 

RESOLVED FURTHER, that the Board in sincere appreciation of 

this magnificent gift that the erect thereon a fitting memorial to those two 

Rockford's noblest women. 

In April of 1921, Rockford Day Nursery requested the use of the Beattie 
homestead as a day nursery for working mothers. The Park Board denied the 
use of the house on the grounds that the home was public property and 
therefore they has no right to grant special privileges to a small segment of the 
public ("Beattie..."). 

The Park Board voted to destroy the house in 1928 and this was done in 
the Spring of 1929. The Beattie homestead was 84 years old at the time of its 















. 



• 



Bernard 7 

destruction and was on the city's oldest landmarks. The following editorial 
appeared in the Star on December 30, 1928: 

A Use for the Beattie Homestead 
The old Beattie homestead in Beattie Park is to be razed according 
to a decision of the park board. It certainly has outlived it usefulness for 
the purpose to which it has been put. 

There remains the thought, however, that it might be preserved for 
more noble purposes. With our modern customs and conveniences 
knowledge of the homes of a few decades ago will soon disappear. We 
will only have a hazy idea of those homesteads of the past century 
gleaned through the pages of books. 

The Beattie homestead re-furnished in the manner of its original 
existence with a care to accuracy would be a museum of great value. It 
might be a difficult and expensive job to find proper furniture and other 
furnishings to complete the picture now that the antique craze has swept 
the territory clean of the old things, but it is worth thinking about. 

The house is in a state of repair, which gives promise of its 
standing for many years yet, with a minimum of care. Consideration of its 
value as a museum of early day Rockford is suggested before the 
decision of the park board to destroy it is carried out. 
The riverfront pagoda was built in 1924 and is located on the south side 
of the 300-foot Rock River frontage of the park. The Naval Memorial is Beattie 
Park was built to honor the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard veterans, past, 



Bernard 8 

present, living & dead. The Rockford Navy Club dedicated a heavy anchor jack 
from the cruiser in U.S.S. Tuscaloosa, on uncertain loan from the U.S. Navy and 
requested from the Park Board an appropriate site for a memorial. The 
memorial was rededicated on Navy Day, October 28, 1966. Six years later, the 
Navy Memorial was completed on October 28, 1972. Lack of funds prevented 
the Navy Club from completing it sooner ("Beattie..."). 

June 13, 1973, marked the opening of the first "Beattie Is..." Arts & 
Crafted Festival. The 3 !4 day event was sponsored by the Rockford Arts 
Council and had cooperation for the Rockford Park District. Two large hunks of 
metal, specially fashioned by Chicago artists, that graced the downtown Beattie 
Park during the recent Riverbank Festival stirred up some pretty serious interest 
in the sculpture. One work by Richard Hunt (nicknamed "the kangaroo" by one 
group of children playing on it) was created on commission, appeared in 
Rockford, strictly on a loan basis and was taken away shortly after the festival 
ended ("Beattie..."). 

The other, John Henry's "Cape Variation", a massive spatial sculpture 
supported by three steel "timbers" bound together in tripod fashion, stayed 
around for a while, quite a while. The sculpture was scheduled to be moved 
from the southwest to the northwest corner of the park on October 2, 1973, 
where it would be welded to permanent concrete bases. The sculpture still 
stands in Beattie Park at the north end of Wyman Street for those who haven't 
had a chance to see it ("Beattie is..."). 



Bernard 9 

The Rockford Park District would risk losing title to Beattie Park if the 
district agrees to a city request to use a 25-by-75-foot portion of the park for the 
proposed Wyman Street crossover, the Park Board was told. Park District 
attorney, Stanley Guyer said that the district holds a conditional title to the land 
and if any of the conditions are violated, the land could revert to the heirs of the 
Beattie family ("Beattie is..."). A land trade has been discussed between the city 
and Park District officials to help promote construction of the Wyman Street 
crossover. The provision apparently was aimed at preventing the extensions of 
Indian Terrace to Wyman Street, which would have involved the destruction of 
Indian Mounds of the park site ("Park..."). 

In August of 1989, the Rockford Park District Board of Commissioners 
approved of some guidelines to follow for future use of Beattie Park. The 
guidelines are as follows: 

• 1989 should be a transition year for Beattie Park user groups. 
Current users should be allowed continued use of the park, 
realizing that, as other areas become available, they may be asked 
to relocate ("Indian burial..."). 

• Work with Burpee Museum of Natural History and other groups or 
individuals to develop a public education program on the 
significance of the park and mounds ("Indian burial..."). 

• Develop a high-quality brochure containing information on Beattie 
Park, the Beattie family and the Indian mounds ("Indian burial..."). 



Bernard 10 

• No motorized vehicles should be allowed, except for grounds 
maintenance purposes under Park District direction. Motorized 
wheel chairs should be allowed ("Indian burial..."). 

• No scheduling sporting activities should be allowed ("Indian 
burial..."). 

• The eastern portion of the park, including the Indian Mounds, 
should be reserved for educational, interpretive and passive 
recreational uses. Exceptions should be allowed during the 
transition year, 1989 ("Indian burial..."). 

• Temporary structures may be erected only in the western portion of 
the park ("Indian burial..."). 

• Scheduling events should be allowed in Beattie Park, subject tot he 
above guidelines. Any new major festivals will be encouraged to 
use other parks ("Indian burial..."). 

"The park is important because it plays a part in revitalizing downtown and 
spurring economic development", Tom Kalousek, Deputy Director of Park 
Services, said. The district is working with the Beattie Is Board of Director to 
reduce activities in the park. The mounds were fenced off this year during 
Beattie Is Festival. "It wasn't a bad compromise, but it's not the best solution for 
the future", said Sue Grans, President of the Beattie Is Board. 

"We found that the mounds were very protected that way, but also we 
also found that's going to limit our ability to grow and limit our ability to do the 






J 



Bernard 1 1 

kind of programming we want to do with the kids and adults", said Grans ("Indian 
Burial..."). 

Considering the kind of usage the park gets, I think they're in fairly good 
shape. I've seen some in much worse shape... The only thing that keeps those 
mound from washing way if that covering of grass. The 1 1 mounds once located 
in the Beattie Park area included turtle and bird effigies, seven conical and two 
linear mounds. There are other mounds in Winnebago County, including a 
conical mound at Tinker Swiss Cottage. It's important to preserve all Indian 
mounds because archaeologists are trying to understand the past ("Indian 
Burial..."). 

The Indian mounds deserve as much respect as the heritage brought by 
our European ancestors. We would not wantonly bulldoze a cemetery of our 
European ancestors yet it has been routinely done with cemeteries of our Native 
American ancestors. 



Bernard 12 

Works Cited 

"Ancient Indian Mounds In Beattie Park, Rockford." Stateline Times & Seasons. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. Spring 

1992. 
Barrie, Vance. Personal Interview. February 2001. 
"Beattie is... a Place to Relax." Rockford Star. Rockfordiana Files, Rockford 

Public Library Reference Section. 29 January 1975. 
Beattie, Mary I. and Anna. Deed to Rockford Park District. Rockfordiana Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 15 February 1921. 
"Beattie Park." Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 

30 December 1930. 
"City Gets Big Tract For Park." Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 15 February 1921. 
"Indian Burial Mounds at Center of Controversy." Rockford Register Star . 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 6 August 

1989. 
"Indian Heritage Celebrated at Mounds." Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana 

Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 3 August 1997. 
"Mounds on Beattie Property Antedate Written Chronicles." Rockford Star. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 17 

February 1921. 



_ 



Bernard 13 

"Mysterious Indian Structures Provide A Link To The Past." Rockford Register 

Star . Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 15 

September 1998. 
"Native American group to "Honor the Mounds." Rock River Times . 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 24 July 

1996. 
"Park Board Fears Beattie Park Loss." Rockford Register Star. Rockfordiana 

Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 29 January 1975. 
"Respecting the Past." Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana File, Rockford 

Public Library Reference Section. 28 July 1996. 
"A Use For the Beattie Homestead." Rockford Star. Rockfordiana Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 30 December 1930. 
"Where to find the mounds at Beattie Park." Rockford Register Star . 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 15 

September 1998. 



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seat is th« sculpture created by John Henry and first displayed value, has hern purchased locally and will remain here * 



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Cooking it just for You! 

By Elizabeth Olson 
Rock Valley College Spring 2001 



Olson 1 



Beth Olson 
English 101 
24 April 2001 



Beef-A-Roo: A Generation of Changes 
Beef-A-Roo (B-A-R) is a unique dining experience. It started out as a small 
business in 1967 and has expanded throughout the years. It began with only three stores 
and has now grown to eight. In the beginning there was a limited menu, but that too has 
changed. B-A-R has added interesting and enticing themes, drive thrus, and new stores. 
B-A-R is one Rockford dining adventure that needs to be tried. Every person who comes 
to Rockford should try at least one of the many locations. It will be an unforgettable 
experience. 

B-A-R is different from most fast foods restaurants. It has and does things that 
other restaurants do not do. The current owner, Jean Vitale, feels "A customer's loyalty 
is only as good as the service, food quality, prices and cleanliness." (Owner 
Rockfordiana). That is why the food order is called off over the microphone as soon as 
the order has been placed. So the food is not sitting up there while waiting to order. They 
cook everything hot and fresh and to the customer's satisfaction. They have many 
sandwiches that are low in fat for those watching their weight. Even the vanilla shakes 
are 98% fat free. All of the fried items are cooked in vegetable oil rather than grease, 
which is what adds the calories. The roast beef is steamed to shave some extra calories 
off. Not only do they have a low fat menu, but they also have a new CHIPS/ Ornish 
MCHH menu (Olson). Look for the attached menu and calorie counter in the appendix of 
this paper. Before leaving do not forget to wait for the dining room hostess to offer one of 



- 



Olson 2 

their peppermint or chocolate mints. It is almost a sit down restaurant without the high 
prices and no need to tip. 

Carl Boraiko was the original owner of B-A-R. He came up with the idea, but he 
was looking for someone to be franchisees. The Vitales (Jean and Dave) just happened to 
know someone who knew Boraiko was looking for franchisees. So they volunteered 
without any collateral and signed the deal with a simple handshake (Vitale Interview). 
They thought that starting a business was just as easy as a simple handshake, but that was 
a hard lesson they had to learn. 

At the time they started their adventure, there were only three Rockford B-A-R's. 
One was located at 2814 11* St., one at 61 16 N. Second St., and the other one located at 
five-points on Charles St. They were just little places with a limited menu of beef, ham, 
soft drinks and chips. There was not much of a menu, but back then many people did not 
eat out as much. A limited menu wasn't bad for a business just taking off. At the time, 
there was not much going on in Rockford. There were really no malls, so the shopping 
was all done downtown. There was not much east of Mulford Rd., but a few stores, and 
lots of open land, so it was pretty much the cut-off of town. The sheriff at the time was 
Kirt King. The three biggest buildings were Globlatts, Sears, and Montgomery Ward. 
That was pretty much the extent of Rockford. It was not very big then, at least compared 
to the rest of the world. At that time they probably did not realize that B-A-R was going 
to make Rockford a big town. 

The Vitale's received the property for a down payment of only $5,000. It was 
soon a debt that came back to haunt them. The debt was something they never expected 
to happen. Neither Dave nor Jean had a business degree or any real background to 



Olson 3 

owning a business (Vitale Interview). She did eventually get her business degree, but it 
was not until she was 50. She was a nurse and he worked at Gerber Foods. At the time, 
there were only three restaurants that sold beef sandwiches in town. Therefore, they had 
lots of competition with Sir Beef and Heap Big Beef. That is why in 1972 Boraiko sold 
the business to them for $10,000, so they could expand the menu (Vitale Interview). At 
the time he had opened up several more B-A-R's. They were located in Michigan, Peoria, 
Des Moines, and a few other places besides the three Rockford branches. Boraiko wanted 
to keep the name and the other restaurants in the surrounding areas, and they did not want 
any royalties and they wanted to have close control of their restaurants, so they decided to 
cut him a deal. He could keep the name and the other restaurants, but he could not 
change the menu, open any other stores or remodel anything. So he agreed to their terms 
of the deal and they went their separate ways (Vitale Interview). 

The 1 1 th St. store was then sold to Dairy Queen. The City of Rockford would not 
allow them to expand the drive thru and with the increasing business of drive thrus they 
decided to sell. Then, shortly after the street in front of five points was closed, the 
Charles St. business went way down. They then decided to close that store because it was 
such a small store and they figured business would do better somewhere else. So that left 
only the one on N. Second St. for business until they built the Auburn St. restaurant in 
1973 (Vitale Interview). 

About five years after the first B-A-R's success, they decided to build more. They 
made all the decisions on their own for many years. They bought their own equipment 
and made changes to the menu, and added themes. When their children grew up, they 



Olson 4 

also became a big part of the business. Family was important and still is today. Family is 
what kept them going and what keeps them in Rockford today. 

The growing interest in Rockford gave them the ideas to build seven other stores. 
After Auburn they built at 2904 W.State St. in 1977, followed by 3401 S. Alpine Rd. in 
1986, then Forest Plaza in 1987, which is located at 6239 E. State St., 6380 Riverside 
Blvd. in 1991, Sterling in 1996 and finally North Woods in 1998, at 4601 Adamson Ln. 
located off of N. Alpine Rd. The costs for each store was $70,000 for the buildings and 
$30,000 for the land. Now those costs are up to over $1,000,000 to build a store (Vitale 
Interview). 

Let's take a look at what business was like when it began. The first uniforms were 
a Western-style of denim and fringe. Now they have progressed to white shirts with the 
logo printed on the back or the blue-checkered shirts with a black skirt, and do not forget 
the apron. Customers remember when the kids' meals all had funny names like: Freddy 
Fox, Harry Hippo, Merry Mouse, and Wanda Wabbit. Those names have now been 
changed and have been retired only to a memory. At one time every sandwich ended in a 
Roo. Some of those sandwiches include the: Beef-a-roo, Ham-a-roo, Pork-a-roo, etc. 
Some customers still ask for them that way to this day. Employees remember when they 
filled the customers' drinks and had pre-ordering, but that became a huge hassle, so they 
stopped that. Pre-ordering was when the employees would try and get the customers 
order before they ordered it so that they could call it off and ring it up, so when they got 
to the register it would be all ready. Imagine how stressful that would be doing that now. 
It has advanced greatly since then. The addition of a drive-thru in the early 80's was just 
the beginning of their advancements. Believe it or not, Jean Vitale said, "Who would 



Olson 5 

want to drive up for their food?" (Reinders Interview). Well, she wouldn't have guessed 
how important they have become today. Now let's take a look a some of the other 
changes. 

The Vitlae's idea is to open a new store every five to ten years. They have kept 
their original idea for the most part. They have just had to take some time out to remodel 
some of the older stores to keep their upstanding quality. B-A-R has come along way 
since it started in 1967. To keep up with the competition, B-A-R has developed many 
different styles and techniques that surpass most local and national fast food chains. B-A- 
R has developed many new themes causing it to become home to many special events. 

When it all began, B-A-R had no themes or drive-thrus, and there were only three 
stores. It has come along way since then. Riverside B-A-R was the first B-A-R to acquire 
a unique theme in 1991. It was the first restaurant in town to have an oldies theme. Jean 
Vitale thinks "customers are drawn to the '50s because they recall them as good times." 
About five years after the oldies theme began, they decided to make the S.Alpine and 
Auburn St. stores into '50s themes also. After the successful oldies theme, they decided 
to build a new restaurant in Sterling in 1996. This store was dedicated to the owner Jean 
Vitale, who was originally from Sterling (Bergsten Interview). 

After building the Sterling B-A-R, they decided to adapt new themes, so in 
1999 B-A-R incorporated a Northwoods theme into the N. Alpine store. This particular 
restaurant was done by the Rockford Structures Company. In 2000, along with trying a 
new theme, B-A-R dedicated the newly remodeled N.2 nd St. store to the volunteer 
firefighters and firefighters of Loves Park and North Park. Most of the memorabilia was 
donated by the firefighters themselves. After the terrific turnout of the newly remodeled 



■ ■ 3S*. - ■» 



Olson 6 

N. 2 nd store, they decided that Auburn St. should be next. That is why it is set to be 
remodeled in the summer of 2001, which will feature a new warehouse theme. For a look 
at the original layout see the appendix. Retrieving all the memorabilia is not cheap. They 
spent about $50,000 to $100, 000 for the memorabilia for each store. (B-A-R Cooks). 
Some of it was donated to the stores but most of it was purchased from various places. 

Each one of these stores has its own unique characteristics and stories. For 
example the W. State restaurant is the only B-A-R with a basement (Bergsten Interview). 
Chris Bergsten recalls her first morning alone at the N 2 nd St. B-A-R, when the fryers 
caught on fire, but saved the day by stopping them before they got out of hand. June 
Bashaw remembers the time they evacuated the Auburn B-A-R, because nobody could 
breathe because someone had sprayed mace all over the dining room. Jean Reinders 
recalled the time the freezer broke down at W. State and they had to put the burgers, fries 
and onion rings in the snow and they were stolen right from underneath their noses. She 
also remembers the burglar at W. State St. nicknamed the "BBQ bandit." He acquired this 
nickname because he first ordered his BBQ sandwich and then asked for all the money, 
and still waited for his sandwich. Luckily, he was caught shortly after that. Forest Plaza 
has had many power outages due to the overpopulation in that particular area. One 
customer will never forget the incident that occurred, while he was using the restroom 
and someone ran a car right through the side of the building and straight in to the 
bathroom, but he wasn't hurt, just a little scared (Vitale Interview). B-A-R has had some 
minor tragedies, but there have been many wonderful events that have taken place at the 
various B-A-R's. 



Olson 7 

B-A-R has sponsored many events and promotions. In the early '70's they ran a 
promotion at the Charles St. store, where they gave away an eight-foot mouse as a prize 
and it ended up falling off the truck on the way to the store. See the appendix for a look at 
the mouse, t They participated in the Rock River Raft Race one year, but since their raft 
sank, they did not try that again. One summer B-A-R gave away flowers for ordering a 
certain amount of food or a special food item, but they had poor success so that was the 
only time they have ever done that. They just recently joined with radio station Q98.5 to 
help run the St. Jude's Children's hospital fundraiser. They have also supported the 
Phantom Regiment for many years now. Although they have many promotions, they also 
have been home to many special events and people. 

Speaking of famous people, Robin Zander of Cheap Trick used to work at B-A-R, 
which is why there is an entire wall dedicated to Cheap Trick at the Riverside B-A-R 
(Bergsten Interview). This also happens to be George Boswell's (The "Big Brother" guy 
from Rockford) favorite B-A-R. Many other radio and T.V. personalities have also been 
spotted at various B-A-R's (Olson). Many children have celebrated their birthday parties 
at the Riverside store, because they love dressing up. Six couples even got married here. 
With the help of Mary's Market Bistro, B-A-R provided each couple with a wedding 
cake and a gift certificate for dinner. The wedding party received B-A-R t-shirts as their 
bridal party gifts. These are just some of the reasons why B-A-R is still a thriving 
business and how their unique characteristics and experiences make this place so famous. 

Not only is B-A-R a great place to eat, but it also a great place to work. This 
writer has worked at B-A-R for more than four years. I have not been there to experience 
all of the special events, but I have has experienced the changes. When I first began, B- 



Olson 8 

A-R was not as busy as it is now. Now most people who have lived in Rockford for any 
length time have experienced this restaurant at least once. Many people out of town even 
look forward to coming to eat here when they come to Rockford, because they love this 
place. B-A-R even sells many bottles of seasoned salt, t-shirts, and other B-A-R items to 
other states. B-A-R has also been home to many different people from around the world. 
Some employees are from Russia, Ecuador, Bosnia, Brazil, Jamaica, England, Korea, 
China, and many other countries. Whether working or eating, B-A-R is a fantastic 
experience and is definitely unique. 

When this business began 34 years ago, the Vitales were married. They have been 
divorced for about 25 years now. They have still run this business together from an office 
even though they each have two new families. Not very many people can stand being in 
the same house with their divorcees, but these two share a business. They started from the 
bottom and now they are on top. What a great triumph! 

B-A-R is one of Rockford's hot spots to eat and hang out. There are many more 
stories and adventures to encounter for yourself. Maybe one day B-A-R will become a 
national chain, so everyone can experience the uniqueness of this restaurant. At least this 
time they will have an easier time starting a national business. With all their successes, 
they can work their way up starting at the top and not the bottom. So go check out B-A- 
R, and enjoy each one of the store's unique characteristics and experience what makes B- 
A-R so amazing. 



Works Cited 
Barrie, Vance. Interview. Rockford Public Library. Jan. 2001. 
Bashaw, June. Personal Interview. Auburn Beef-A-Roo. 20 March 2001. 
Beef-A-Roo Beef-A-Roo Menu . Pamphlet. 4 Apr. 2001. 
"Beef-A-Roo Cooks Up '50's Style Eatery." Rockford Register Star. Rockfordiana Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 24 Sep. 1990. 
Beef-A-Roo Food Facts . Pamphlet. No date. 
"Beef-A-Roo." Mikes Website . 1998. 

www.slic.com/alanf/home3 .html. 
"Beef-A-Roo Owners Build On Franchise Success." Rockford Register Star . 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section 26 July 1998. 
Bergsten, Chris. Personal Interview. Rockford, IL. 19 March 2001. 
Bruening, Jeff. Interview. Rock Valley College. Jan. 2001. 

"Construction To Begin On North Alpine Beef-A-Roo." Parks Journal. 29 July 1998. 
McQueen, Holly. "Six Couples Take Vows In Beef-A-Roo T Do'." Photo. Rockford 

Register Star . 19 July 1998. 
Montyville, Eddy. "State eases franchise process." Photo. Rockford Register Star . 31 

Aug. 1998. 
Olson, Elizabeth. Beef-A-Roo Employee. 
Quinn, Jim. "Mouse Shows Up Bigger Than Life." Photo. Rockford Register Republic . 

1 Dec. 1972. 
Reinders, Jean. Personal Interview. Rockford, IL. 18 March 2001. 
"Six Couples Take Vows In Beef-A-Roo T Do'." Rockford Register Star. 19 July 1998. 



Vitale, Jean. Personal Interview. Rockford, IL. 24 Feb. 2001. 
Vitale, Jean. Personal Interview. Rockford, IL 19 Mar. 2001. 
Vitale, Jean. Personal Interview. Rockford, IL 5 Apr. 2001. 



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The Timeless Path of Brooke Road United Methodist Church 

By 

Michele Dobbs 

Spring Semester 2001 

Rock Valley College English Composition I 




SKOOKE ROAP WVtfV METH0V1ST CHURCH, WCKfORD. ILLINOIS 



Dobbs 1 

Michele Dobbs 
English 101 
08 May 2001 

The Timeless Path of Brooke Road United Methodist Church 

Who would have thought that the path two young boys took every Sunday would 
lead to the birth of Brooke Road United Methodist Church? The empty land that sat on 
the corner of 10th Street and Brooke Road became the exact location of the church 
building today. Serving the community in the southeast corner of Rockford has remained 
the purpose of Brooke Road UMC even after 75 years of change. People take different 
paths everyday to reach the same destination, some because of construction, some 
because of the weather and some because of the view. No matter what, the motive is the 
same. The paths Brooke Road Church takes are forever changing as well. With good 
direction and guidance, they are traveled and explored often. 

Even though the author had passed by the structure of Brooke Road United 
Methodist Church a dozen or more times, she always wondered what was inside the 
concrete and brick building that stood like a soldier waiting for a command. The first 
time the author entered the steel-framed glass doors, she knew there was a connection. 
The warm and welcoming feeling of the people made the author want to find out what 
this place had to offer her (Dobbs). 

The area in which this sensational structure sets is not known to be a very 
prosperous neighborhood. By the looks of some of the surrounding homes, one can tell it 
is on the decline. Peeling paint, boards sagging, and yards full of debris make the author 
wonder if she should park and run to the door of the building. Yet, knowing that the 
community is trying to revive this once-thriving area, she shelters the fear and the sweat 



■V. - - 



Dobbs 2 

on her brow begins to evaporate. Something about this peace-filled building makes the 
author want to keep entering (Dobbs). 

Once inside, it seems that the author feels the love and loyalty it holds. 
"Sanctuary," is the feeling the author gets as she walks through the tall, wooden-framed 
doors into the beautiful and spirit-filled worship space. The pews sit straight and in lines 
like crows gathered at the top of the telephone line waiting for their next feast. Colorful 
and full of stones, the stained glass windows flow among the mighty brick that leads up 
the never ending wall. Wooden beams and slats make up the ceiling, reminding the 
author of the popcicle house that she made in Girl Scouts. It makes the author long for the 
history behind them (Dobbs). 

Sensing the many stories it holds along the way, the author knows that she wants 
to be part of the novel. As the author sits and looks at the mostly gray sea of heads in 
front and behind her with their smiling faces, she knows there are many chapters to read. 
The smell of many different perfumes and colognes transports the author to the fragrance 
aisle of local department stores. All the wonders of the unknown keeps the author 
interested like children with their favorite book (Dobbs). 

Brooke Road UMC is not hard to find from the Greater Rockford Airport. The 
path to take is up to the driver, as varied as the many flight patterns planes use to land. As 
parents like to say, "Life has many crossroads, it is up to you to choose the right direction 
to take." It seems our parents grow smarter when we become parents ourselves, and 
possibly the congregation has grown wiser through the years (Dobbs). 

Arriving at the Greater Rockford Airport isn't as spectacular as arriving at 
Chicago O'Hare Airport. There are not as many lights and tall buildings to look at on the 



Dobbs 3 

landing or take off. From the airport parking lot, take a right onto Airport Drive to begin 
the journey. While winding around the airport, airplanes land and take off like a mother 
bird bringing her hatchlings their meals again leaving to find the next course of the meal 
(Dobbs). 

Following Airport Drive leads to the end of the runway. At this four-way stop, 
take a left onto Kishwaukee Road. Industrial companies surround most of the road until 
the Bypass 20 underpass. At this point, Riverdahl Elementary School waits as eagerly as 
the children inside. Pass through the intersection at Kishwaukee Road and Sandy Hollow. 
After the 1/2-mile stretch, a small market is perched to the right, at the intersection of 
Kishwaukee Road and Brooke Road. Take a right onto Brooke Road and travel east 
approximately three blocks, where the railroad tracks are as unpredictable as the trains 
that cross over them. Keep going approximately 3-1/2 more blocks, the large building 
starts to appear like the sun in the morning horizon. At last, 1404 Brooke Road, better 
known as Brooke Road United Methodist Church, welcomes the weary traveler the same 
way its greeters welcome worshippers each Sunday morning. The homes that surround 
the building are a reminder of the importance of the families inside and what purpose the 
church has for them. The main entrance has its own appeal with a beautiful landscape and 
tall trees that are home to many little creatures. The friendliness makes one want to 
accept the invitation to enter. So, open the door and take a look inside (Dobbs). 

It is interesting to hear the stories of long ago and how a place became what it is 
today. In 1921, when Art Froberg and his brother began their journey down Eleventh 
Street, they never thought one day it would lead to the birth of a church. The boys walked 
down to New Milford each Sunday morning and Pastor Storer would stop to give them a 



Dobbs 4 

ride to their favorite fishing hole. One Sunday morning Pastor Storer asked the boys, 
"Why are you boys not in church?" After hearing the reply, "We don't have a church in 
our neighborhood!" Pastor Storer along with a local women's group set out on a mission 
to start a church. Thus, the vision of Brooke Road UMC was born ("75 Years. . ."video). 

The vacant lot at the southwest corner of Brooke Road and 10 th Street seemed to 
be a great location. The office at the real estate business on the corner of Kinsey Street 
became too small for the growing Sunday school class. Organized by thirteen charter 
members in May of 1 924, the plan was started. Horse-drawn wagons pulled two barracks 
from Camp Grant to the lot to serve as an interim church building. Families gathered 
there until an overheated stove burned the barracks down to the ground in March of 1925 
(Brooke Road brochure). 

Immediately, the congregation started construction of a basement church building. 
With the basement being designed to fit the structure of Broadway United Methodist 
Church, the leaders hoped to move Broadway's building to Brooke Road when Broadway 
built its new facility. Since the depression came and money was a major obstacle for 
Broadway UMC, the plan failed and new plans for Brooke Road to build became a 
reality. Young couples started building new homes in the community. Troops being 
trained at Camp Grant brought in more families ("75 Years. . ."video). Even though 
violence was not as bad back then as it is today, difficulties and stresses existed in the 
neighborhood. In 1921, a stranger, believed to be under the influence of moonshine, shot 
and killed a mother of three children ("Stranger kills., ."microfilm June 1921.) Religion 
seemed to be a happy escape from all the negativity in the community. Pastor Storer, 



^St- 



art 



Dobbs 5 

along with help from the Ladies Aide Club, the O'Hara family, and the Ferb family began 
a process of development for the church ("75 Years. . ."video). 

During the fall of 1938, initial construction of Brooke Road United Methodist 
Church was completed. Olis Person, a private builder, along with volunteers, constructed 
the church building. Forty-five hundred dollars in cash and materials were donated for the 
construction. Volunteer labor added up to the cost of thirty- five hundred dollars. The 
trustees of the Coletta Church donated windows as well as $470.00 from the sale of the 
church. The trustees of Wadhams Grove Church donated the seats. Funds seemed to be 
the only problem encountered through the whole process and completion of the church. 
An outpouring of support came from the community during and after the completion. 
Many families, as well as children who came by themselves, joined the congregation as 
members. Small groups began to form and remnants of those groups remain today 
(Brooke Road brochure; Dietz phone). 

Looking back to the past and knowing what became of a vision of one Pastor and 
two boys makes the future seem brighter. Even though funds were not there, no one 
stopped believing. Art Froberg still loves to share his story of how a fishing trip with his 
brother created Brooke Road United Methodist Church ("75 Years. . ."video). All these 
historical connections make the bond that holds the church together like a strong fishing 
net, which endures constant use and the elements of the weather. One has to believe that 
there is not one idea or vision too small to become a reality. 

Serving the southeast corner of Rockford is still a priority for Brooke Road UMC, 
even after 75 years of changes. There are many people who walk in and out of the 
building on a weekly basis. Some come for the Thrift Shop, some to bring their children 



Dobbs 6 

to the Children's Day Out program, some for meetings, and some for worship; others just 
pass by the building. Like a mother nurturing her child, the building stands with its arms 
wide open (Dobbs). 

Brooke Road UMC set out to reach the community that surrounded it. Starting 
with holding worship in the basement, neighbors offered their homes as well as 
accommodated the growing Sunday school classes of the congregation. The more the 
community responded, the more Brooke Road UMC sought to help. Immediately after 
completion of the church building in 1938, the church provided a place for the Boy and 
Girl Scout troops in the local community to meet. Today, Brooke Road UMC sponsors 
two Girl Scout troops that meet at the church monthly ("75 Years... "video). 

In 1938, Sylvia Nelson became a member during the construction of the new 
building. Brooke Road UMC is where she met her late husband, Don O'Hara, and from 
this union started the generation of O'Hara's, that are now celebrating their fifth 
generation as members. Sylvia sang in the choir for 25 years, was a secretary for the 
council board and president of the United Methodist Women. She currently works as a 
secretary in the office, serves on the historical committee and on the witness committee 
as well. She has seen most of the changes that have taken place and is proud to be a 
Brooke Road UMC member (O'Hara letter). 

The dream of starting a kindergarten class became reality when the church council 
members started the class in 1952. Dorothy Carpenter taught the kindergarten class from 
1964-1967. She stated, "How challenging but willing to learn both the children and 
herself were." When the public schools started kindergarten classes, Brooke Road UMC 
decided to keep education going with a pre-school. Dorothy Carpenter taught pre-school 



«1r - 



Dobbs 7 

from 1969-1992. During those years she taught the children basic skills instead of just 
offering playtime. In 1994, Dorothy came out of retirement to teach pre-school again, but 
despite efforts from Dorothy and Brooke Road UMC, the pre-school closed in 1996 
because of lack of funds and a dwindling student population (Carpenter letter; "75 
Years. . ."brochure). 

In 1999, new hope came to Brooke Road UMC when Children's Day Out began. 
Dorothy has substituted as a teacher and teacher's aide for the program. Substituting in 
the C.D.O. program is a new experience for her because the children are learning how to 
use computers and have so many other opportunities than students did during the years 
she taught. Dorothy said, "It is great to see children of children that she had in her pre- 
school class." The author is also very involved with this program and her child 
participates in it as well. It is so uplifting to see what this wonderful program does for the 
children. Every day the children learn something new and are excited to tell about it. So, 
even though times have changed, the purpose of outreach continues to remain (Carpenter 
letter; Dobbs). 

From the vision of starting a church in 1921, to the groundbreaking ceremonies on 
Sunday, May 15, 1955, for the new $250,000 Brooke Road building, community 
outreach has been the focus. Rev. Charles J. Moushon served as pastor during this era of 
Brooke Road UMC. The plans were to purchase more land, build a new sanctuary and 
build another educational-recreational wing. On May 4,1958, Rev. Moushon and the 
church celebrated the new brick and stone educational building completion. The new 
addition included six classrooms, offices for the pastor and secretary and a fellowship 
hall in the basement. Sunday school classes packed the six classrooms, so the hallways 



Dobbs 8 

were then turned into classes as well (Brooke Road. . .brochure). Before long, the building 
was bursting at the seams just like someone who has overindulged on their favorite 
desserts. 

In the fall of 1968, the stone and brick sanctuary was completed. It included 
seating for approximately 250 people, with exposed timber ceilings and the chancel 
arrangement "communion in the round." E.W. Schmeling & Sons constructed the 
outstanding new addition. The windows of faceted glass are symbols of God the Creator, 
God the Sun and God the Holy Spirit. The same year the laying of the cornerstone took 
place. The list of items placed inside are as follows: Today's English Version of the New 
Testament, church bulletins, Methodist Hymnal, Together Magazine, building fund 
brochure, Brooke Road Visitor, pictures of activities and members, Ken Rock Herald, 
membership directory, quarterly conference reports, Rockford Morning Star, and the Paul 
Tillich sermon "You are Accepted" (Brooke Road... brochure). 

The bells, which play beautiful music for the neighborhood, were installed in 
1974 and remain in use today. The church has planned and organized meals and activities 
for years and years. So in 1990, the new industrial kitchen was installed with stainless 
steel appliances, modern cabinets and tile floors. The cooking and clean up are so much 
easier and faster with the new kitchen. After years of wear and tear the hallways and 
offices were remodeled in 1998 with modern decor, new carpeting and updated lighting. 
These new effects make the walk through the building much more uplifting and brighter 
(Brooke Road... brochure). The members of Brooke Road UMC are always seeking the 
opportunity to enhance their beloved building (Westlund phone; Brooke Road brochure). 



■ 



Dobbs 9 



During our phone conversation, Edna Dickinson reminisced about her wedding 



day at Brooke Road UMC on May 22, 1948. Until a few years ago, she and her husband, 
Glenn, were very active and involved members, but due to illness, they are homebound. 
Edna spoke of the changes she as seen over the years and how the church was full years 
ago with families, then declined through other years, but now is on the rise again 
(Dickinson phone). Bob Westlund is another very involved and active member of Brooke 
Road UMC. He has been a member for a long time now and knows the church like the 
back of his hand. Even though he may not be able to recall exact years, he knows the 
whole story. He has seen the church through many of its transitions. When members have 
been absent from church a few times, Bob tells them, "The devil has got a hold of one of 
your feet!" with a grin on his face as he states his comment. He is a very compassionate 
and knowledgeable person. Bob's sister-in-law, Lillian Dietz, (whom is also a member of 
the church) is a daughter of the late Olis Person, the man who built the first church 
building. Lillian has been a member of Brooke Road for many years and stills remains 
very active in the church life (Dickinson phone; Westlund phone). The history goes on 
and on with so much more to tell. 

The author loves to hear about all these stories and is proud to be a member of 
Brooke Road UMC. The author is on the Children's Day Out Board, Youth Sunday 
school teacher, Young Adult and Family Ministries committee and tries to help out 
whenever possible. The author feels the church has many paths to take and hopes to 
travel down many of them while continuing to contribute to the untold stories. The vision 
has never changed over the 75 years to serve the community along Brooke Road. As far 
as one can see, that vision will always be the congregation's purpose (Dobbs). 



Dobbs 10 

Since 1998, Pastor James Preston has been the residing minister. He also shares 
the vision that Brooke Road Church must serve their community in various ways. The 
Children's Day Out became a success with his support and knowledge. He shares a new 
vision now along with the church community with plans on building a senior housing 
development for low-income seniors. He has a heart of gold and endless talents, which 
the congregation believes, will keep the dream alive for a long time to come, perhaps 
another 75 years. So, come along and take a walk on the timeless path to Brooke Road 
UMC (Preston recollections). 






i. 






Dobbs 11 



Works Cited 

Barrie, Vance. Slide Presentation. Jan.2001. 

Brooke Road UMC. "75 Years Planted, Rooted, Harvested." Brochure. 1999. 

Brooke Road UMC. History Archival Room. Various photos. No date. 

Bruening, Jeff. Presentation. Jan. 2001. 

Carpenter, Dorothy. Letter and Photos. 18 March 2001. 

Dickinson, Edna. Phone conversation and Photos. 17 March 2001. 

Dietz, Lillian. Phone conversation. 20 February 2001. 

Dobbs, Michele. Personal recollections. April 2001. 

O'Hara, Sylvia. Letter. 18 March 2001. 

Preston, James. Personal recollections. March 2001. 

"75 Years at Brooke Road UMC." Dir. James Preston. Videotape. 1999 

"Stranger Kills Mother of Three." The Rockford Morning Star 

Microfilm. June 1921 -September 1921. Rockford Public 

Library Periodical Section. 



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A Lasting Impression : The Byron Nuclear Plant 

by 

Laura Fitts 

English 101, Section NDF 

Professor Fisher 

08 May 2001 




Laura Fitts 
Professor Fisher 
Eng 101 
08 May 2001 

A Lasting Impression 

There is nothing like jumping in the car and taking a trip to Byron, Illinois on a 
warm summer day. Enjoy the picturesque view of the Rock River, while traveling down 
Route 2. Observe families having a picnic or the avid fishermen stopping by for the 
sensation of getting that big awaited catch of the day. 

There is an area of trees, which gives the feeling of driving through a dark shaded 
tunnel. This provides the trip with some mystery to what's on the other side of the 
darkness. As the trees begin to thin out, gaze over to the left and catch a glimpse of the 
enormous smoke stacks in the sky. 

They are part of the Byron Nuclear Plant, which generates electrical power to 
businesses and residents in the surrounding area. As they become closer, observe the 
enormous size. The two silo-like cooling towers are 495' high (50-story building). The 
surface is made of smooth marble-like concrete, which consists of 97,000 cubic yards of 
concrete ("How"; "History"). Open the car windows and listen to the hums from the 
machinery, which sound like a heater staying kicked on all the time. There are lights 
located on top of the cooling towers, which flicker constantly to warn the planes passing 
by. The smoke pouring out of the structures looks like huge clouds forming in the sky. 
At night, from a distance, when the plant is all lit-up it looks likes its own little town in 
the country. 



Fitts 2 
The history of the Byron Nuclear Plant began in 1972, when agents for 
Commonwealth Edison began buying land in the Byron area for the utility ("History"). 
The setting of Byron is the rolling countryside of northern Illinois, not far from the Rock 
River. The expansive farmland provided 1500 acres needed to build the facility. This 
was a good spot to put into action all the plans and expectations of a generating station 
("Nuclear Plant Gets..."). 

During the same year, the United States was fighting in the Vietnam War. In part 
America fought in Vietnam to contain Chinese expansion into Southeast Asia, only to 
discover eventually that a unified, Communist Vietnam stood as a barrier to the spread of 
Chinese influence. This war had imposed terrible sacrifices on the Vietnamese people. 
Over 224,000 South Vietnamese soldiers died defending their country, the now-vanished 
Republic of Vietnam, while over 924,000 North Vietnamese soldiers and their southern 
allies died to bring about the Communist triumph in the spring of 1975 (Isaacs 236-237). 
Although this brought much worries and sorrow to the nation, the wartime provided 
much economic resources needed to build such projects like the Byron Nuclear Plant. 
The idea for the facility came when Commonwealth Edison came to a turning 
point in the business of generating electrical power. The traditional means of burning 
fossil fuels to provide electricity was being replaced with a serious commitment to 
nuclear energy("Edison"). However, before any firm decisions were made, there were 
questions to be weighed. The company brought teams of scientists to the building site to 
decide how the station could operate with the least possible disturbance to the land, its 
plant and animal life, and its people ("How"). They paid close attention to the opinions 



. 



Fitts 3 
of all the areas. 

Before construction could begin, a series of public hearings were held by 
governing agencies. The Ogle County Board had to approve zoning for the Byron 
Nuclear Plant. This zoning was approved in April of 1973 ("History" 1973). There were 
other obstacles, such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission giving the utility the 
construction permit required to proceed with the nuclear-related portion of the 
construction. Hearings were held on the design of the reactor and other safety factors. 
One item of concern was the discovery of an earthquake fracture in the rock of the 
construction site. Workers excavating on the 40-acre area with the depth of 40 feet found 
a crack through the rocks ("Edison"). The crack ran through the site midway between 
where the two reactors were to be constructed. Dr. H. B. Williams, of the Illinois 
Geological Survey was brought in to examine how long it had been since the fault 
occurred. His findings revealed that this fault occurred over one million years ago and 
was estimated at about 250 million years old. So the particular age of this fault over 
exceeded the Federal Regulations, which prohibits siting a plant where there are 
indications of a single earthquake-caused earth movement in the past 35,000 years or 
multiple movement in the past 500,000 years ("Edison"). This finalized the project and 
began the ball rolling in making the Byron plant the fifth station in Commonwealth 
Edison's nuclear family. 

On March 1, 1975, workers began preliminary excavation work at the Byron 
nuclear plant site. Ecokel Construction Co., located in Cincinnati, Ohio, was awarded the 
contract as the main contractor ("History"). 



Fitts 4 

In June 1978, work was halted for short times after two ironworkers were killed 
when two concrete X-braces on which they were working collapsed. Killed were Gary 
Daniels, 25, of Leaf River and Raymond Murphy, 38, of Rochelle. Daniels was in a tub- 
like device-78 feet above the ground ("Pylon"). He was attached to the skeletal wall of a 
cooling tower base when the accident occurred. Murphy was on a scaffold, just outside 
the tub, helping to secure metal devices at the top of the concrete braces. Laverne 
Gothberg, a spokeswoman for Commonwealth Edison, said the men employed by Ecokel 
of Cincinnati, Ohio, were installing steel reinforcement bars when the struts collapsed for 
unknown reasons ("Two"). After an Investigation, Ecokel Construction Co. was found to 
have committed serious safety violations and work resumed on the plant ("History"). 

The original cost was estimated 800 million dollars, but by the time of 
completion it had risen or almost doubled to the final price of 1.94 billion dollars 
(Peterson). 

People living within sight of the power plant have come to accept it as part of 
their neighborhood. They have become accustomed to the machinery hums and the 
airplane warning lights, which wink from the tops of the cooling towers. The Byron 
Nuclear Plant has been financially beneficial to the Byron community through the many 
jobs it has provided and the funding for local government agencies ("Atomic"). 

In 1985, the Byron Nuclear Plant began generating not only electricity, but also 
huge property tax revenue for the local tax districts ("Nuclear Plant Taxes.."). It has 
spawned some worries, but it has also presented local government agencies with a tax 
bonanza. 



Fitts 5 
"Before Com Ed stepped in, the farmers paid two-thirds of the taxes," said Martin 
Swanson, a retired farmer, who sipped on coffee in the Sunrise Restaurant in downtown 
Byron. "Now some of the $300,000 houses they are building here will have to pick up 
the load." He remembers when the taxes on his 240-acre farm six miles north of town 
totaled $300 a year and his father blew his top when he opened the tax bill. Today, he 
said, his property taxes are over $3000. Subdivisions are sprouting up on the edge of 
town, giving this small town more the look of a suburb than a farm community (Young). 

The two communities of Mt. Morris and Byron were once similar in property 
wealth, but with vast property wealth from the nuclear plant it has changed many things. 
Byron was able to build its high school in 1980 and has renovated its elementary and 
junior high schools, while Mt Morris High School dates back to 1951 and its two schools 
have leaky roofs and no money to fix them ("Rich"). Byron schools also have air- 
conditioned classrooms, an indoor swimming pool, and four racquetball courts, which are 
envied by districts struggling to survive. 

Other beneficiaries of the plant's tax dollars are the Byron Fire Protection 
District, Rockvale Township and Ogle County. "We were outmoded," said former Fire 
Chief Robert Dyck ("Nuclear Plant Taxes.."). But because of the nuclear plant, Dyck 
said, " the district is in good shape for the first time since 1962." The fire department 
was able to upgrade the ambulance, fire equipment, and build a new firehouse. Rockvale 
Township was able to buy a new road grader and replace its 1943 model it had bought 
used, which kept breaking down ("Atomic"). Ogle County also had big plans for its 
sizeable slice of the nuclear plant revenue pie, by upgrading roads and lowering the tax 



Fitts 6 

rate. 

In 1996, the plug was pulled on the Byron area's nuclear cushion. Com Ed won a 
longtime battle with local taxing districts to lower the assessments on the power plant to 
a third of what they had been. The reaction to the decision in Byron has been 
surprisingly subdued, except among the ("Nuclear Plant Taxes..."). There is no doubt 
that this hit the school system the hardest. Many extra-curricular programs, such as 
soccer had to raise the money through fundraisers and activity fees that the parents had to 
pay. "Another way to cut back was for the school district to offer early retirement 
packages for the veteran teachers, so they could hire new ones at a much lower salary," 
said Mrs. Cravatta, a third grade teacher (Cravatta). "We lost $700 million of our $995 
million in assessed valuation overnight," said William Young, Superintendent of the 
school district (Young). 

The 10 local taxing districts in Ogle County have filed an appeal with the Illinois 
Appellate Court in Elgin, and if they lose their appeal, will have to pay back an estimated 
$110 million to Edison for over assessing the plant the last six years (Tax). 

In light of all the problems, one conclusion seems evitable: the Byron school 
district will be hit the hardest in all this mess and will definitely have to find other means 
of funding, whether it be raising taxes or more cutbacks. The author of this story lives in 
the small rural community of Byron and has children which attend the schools. She has 
not seen many changes yet, but is anticipating them to come in the next few years. 

As we have come to the end, after enduring the trip, the author of this story had a 
chance to tour the Byron Nuclear Plant. She was very impressed with the extensive 



Fitts 7 

security measures the company takes to ensure the safety. The entrance passes through 
security gate house, which requires visitors and personnel to sign in and walk through 
explosive and metal detectors. Another procedure the author endured was having her 
belongings scanned in a x-ray machine. After making her way through the security, she 
entered the generating building and was amazed by all the conglomeration of pipes. She 
labeled the pipes, mostly big ones, and viewed it as a pipe fitter's dream. Or it may be a 
nightmare. She summed up her major impression, after viewing the massive stone, steel, 
and concrete facility, in one word: "Safe." 

To view the gargantuan dimension of the structure relinquishes a lasting 
impression. Observing the structures in close proximity gives them much more 
significance. 



Fitts 8 

Works Cited 
"Atomic Dollars Aid Byron School District." Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana 

Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 30 Jan 1979. 
Barrie, Vance. Slide presentation. 23 Jan. 2001. 
Bruening, Jeff Presentation. 05 Feb. 2001. 
Cravatta, Charlene. Personal Interview. 02 April 2001. 
"Edison Carves Site for Nuclear Plant at Byron." Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana 

Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 28 Sept. 1975. 
"History of the Nuclear Plant Began in 1972." Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana 

Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 14 Jan. 1984. 
"How Safe the Nuclear Plant is." Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana Files, Rockford 

Public Library Reference Section. 09 Sept. 1998. 
Kartheiser, Bob. E-mail interview. 09 March 200 1 . 
Isaacs, Arnold. "Vietnam Shadows: The War, Its Ghosts, and Its Legacy." The John 

Hopkins University Press Sept. 1998:236-237. Online Database. AOL Search. 

www.looksmart.com. 
"Nuclear Plant gets Zoning in Ogle County." Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana 

Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 12 April 1973. 
"Nuclear Plant Taxes Will Upgrade Area." Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 29 Jan 1979. 
Peterson, Eileen. "Byron Plant Cost Twice What it Was." Rockford Register Star . 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 27 March 1980. 



I 



Fitts9 
"Pylon Collapse Killed Two." Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana Files, Rockford 

Public Library Reference Section. 03 June 1978. 
"Rich, Poor: A Tale of 2 Schools." Chicago Tribune . 16 Nov. 1993. Online Database. 

Yahoo. http://www.infoweb5. newsbank.com. 
"Two Killed on Byron Project." Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana Files, Rockford 

Public Library Reference Section. 02 June 1978. 
Young, David. "Tax Case Fallout Clouds Byron Ruling For Edison Cuts Funding Level." 

Chicago Tribune . 28 Jan 1996. Online Database. Yahoo. 

http://www.infoweb5.newsbank.com. 



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PROJECT MANAGER 



April, 1981 



CAMP LOWDEN BSA 





u" 



After 60 years there still coming back 

Story by 

David J. Picchi 

Rock Valley College Spring 2001 






Picchi 1 

David J. Picchi 
English 101 
14 April 2001 

The Way Camping Should Be 

Standing underneath trees so tall that they might catch and hold onto the sky one 
might never want to leave this serene place. The story being told today with a creative 
spark, is the 273 acres that now make-up Lowden State Park. Legends and heroes of 
many have christened this place unlike any other. 

From an Indian's village, to a colony's nest, this land has held the title of home to 
the best. From a far away home, to a public park, the land transformed out of the dark. 
Now modem day folks bask in its awe, because they are able to see what the first 
residents saw. The home of brave warriors, writers, and scouts, Lowden State Park is an 
American past time, and present. Now the rhythm of this lecture is taking direction. 

Camp Lowden BSA, meaning Boy Scouts of America, is the final destination for 
this essay yet the writer feels that a reader should be able to also see this place for oneself 
before continuing to describe it any further. Travel West on Bypass 20 then exit onto 
Highway 2 heading toward Dixon. Drive all the way to Washington Street in the center of 
Oregon. Then turn left and cross over the Rock River. Now on Highway 64 take note not 
to turn right at the first Lowden Miller Forest sign and continue straight to the first 
stoplight. This is the corner of Highway 64 and Daysville Road. Notice the sign on the 
right for Camp Lowden BSA. Follow the sign and turn right onto Daysville Road. Shortly 
after that take the fork to the right onto Lowden Road. There is a sign for Camp Lowden 
BSA on the right. Turn right on Nashua Road at the sign. The last turn is to the right to 
enter Camp Lowden. The trip takes less than an hour and is very scenic no matter the 
season. 



<t. - - 



Picchi 2 

Now that this reader is at the location it should be possible to follow along with 
this writer's descriptions. Native Americans resided in the Rock River Valley in what is 
today Ogle County. The late Chief Blackhawk, who now has a statue that commemorates 
his words, spoke of the land as gods gift to people. He hoped that even though he would 
no longer be there, that his captors would take care of it. Chief Blackhawk, who actually 
was not an official chief, led charges against the invading white settlers defending the 
bluffs of the valley. He valiantly defended the same land that now has become Lowden 
State Park. His mark permanently remains as a watchful eye over the land very land that 
he and the first Native Americans there loved so dearly. 

In 1898, an assistant manager of the University of Chicago, and a Chicago 
attorney, Wallace Heckman, purchased a large piece of land along the Rock River Valley. 
He and his wife established a colony in the woods along the bluffs. They called this 
colony "Eagles Nest." Camp Lowden was quite close to the location of the colony. This 
colony was an extraordinary place on its own. Poets and artists of different trades were 
some of the first to inhabit the actual Lowden Park. The colony thrived for almost 50 
years. It was home to many brilliant artists including Lorado Taft. He was one of the first 
residents of the colony and is famous for his statue of Blackhawk that now resides on the 
banks of the river 

The original eleven occupants of the colony were: 

Ralph Clarkson, Charles Francis Browne, Oliver 

Dennet Grove, Hamlin Garland, Henry B. Fuller, 

Horace Spencer Friske, Irving D. and Allen B. 



Picchi 3 

Pond, Lorado Taft, Nellie Walker, and Clarence 

Dickinson. (Camp Low 1951) 
Around the same time, the automobile was revolutionizing the world. Rockford, 
Illinois, now a thriving small town, was beginning to put itself on the map with mass 
production factories and new jobs for immigrants. The Eagles Nest colony thrived until 
1942, six years after the death of Taft. After that the inhabitant slowly dispersed. They 
left the place they all loved so much. Nearly a year after the last colonist left the land 
Governor Lowden died. "Illinois legislature appropriated $25,000 toward the cost of a 
memorial to him." (Depart 1998) The citizens of Oregon and the other neighboring cities, 
along with the help of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), matched that 
amount. Therefore, in 1945, the 63 rd General Assembly designated the 273-acre land 
formally know as Eagles Nest as Lowden State Park. (Depart 1998) 

Previously, in 1942, Camp Lowden BSA opened in Lowden State Park. Lowden 
was home to only a few buildings and the nearby Rock River, yet the camp was a major 
attraction. The BSA paid to build the entire camp. A team of adult leaders, with the help 
of local community volunteers, and the scouts completed the endeavor in less than a year. 

This was a time when a candy bar cost only a couple of cents. A dinner for an 
entire family was reasonably afforded for a few dollars. All these things were true, yet 
there still was no money for Camp Lowden in its early years. Determined not to fail, the 
council members of the Boy Scouts, and the boys, took upon a difficult challenge. In the 
first years of Camp Lowden's history, it was very low cost to attend camp. Although it 
was low cost, some still could not afford to come. During these first years of Camp 
Lowden, some of the Rockford area businesses did their best to help fund the Boy Scouts. 



i 



Picchi 4 

Some of the groups accredited with helping where: the Rockford Elks club, and the 
Rockford Optimists club. 

Then the Boy Scout Council made the decision to lower costs and that is when 
the boys, and leaders, became interested. In 1944, "The rate for a boy who attends in a 
unit supervised by his own scoutmaster was reduced from $10 to $6.40 per week and a 
boy who the camp furnishes provisional scoutmaster supervision was lowered from $12 
to $7. 80. "(Camping Fee 1944) Later that same year, the Okeh Council gave the Boy 
Scouts a $34,750 dollar allowance. With this extra allotment, the enrollment of Boy 
Scouts reached an all time high in the area of 2,381 boys. At the end of the camp season 
there were over 132 scout troops listed on the camp's seasonal roster. The buildings on 
the property had to be built one by one, as the passing seasons brought in more revenue. 

Things at Camp Lowden started to move for the better. In August of the same 
year at the end of the season, the scout shelter was built. (Camping Fee 1944) The shelter 
cost more than $500 dollars; with that being such a costly expence, it would not be 
destroyed or rebuilt in later years. It later would become the dining hall at the current 
facility. Slowly the camp developed into the hottest spot for boys. Through the next 
several years, the Boy Scouts built many new additions to the camp. After a paper drive, 
in Aug. of 1945, the boys paid for a new scout lodge to be built. Carl Martin, the Camp 
Director in 1945, stated, " This week concludes the camping season at Lowden. A total of 
858 boys participated in camping activities as compared to 336 last year." (Paper Pays 
1944) This large increase brought in a lot of extra revenue, which the Boy Scout Council 
knew exactly how to use. New staff lodgings were the next thing to be built. They lasted 






lA. 



Picchi 5 

until the 1960's when the staff cabins where rebuilt to accommodate the need for a larger 
staff-to-boy ratio. 

Until the late '90s the camp kept the same layout until some drastic changes were 
made. In 1996, the camp's pool was completely destroyed and then remodeled. A diving 
board was then added to the new pool. This addition was an instant success and increased 
enrollment the following year. Not to be under done by the Scout Council, the Boy 
Scouts decided they would build a 30 ft. climbing tower. The tower was completed in 
time for the 1998 camping season. One of the writer's favorite experiences is when in the 
pre 1998 camp season, the writer volunteered to help build the climbing tower on camp. 
The writer, his brother, and his best friend drove, each morning, for two and a half weeks 
to Camp Lowden from Rockford Illinois. The five telephone poles used for the base had 
to inserted using a cherry picker-type crane. From there the writer, with help from others, 
slowly completed putting on the facial boards that cover the tower. The writer was 
personally responsible for the drilling of the holes where the hand and foot grips would 
be placed. The writer was one of the first people to climb up the tower. At nearly 30 ft. in 
the air the people below just do not look as big. As a result, more boys and new troops 
attended camp that year. To keep the ball rolling, barely completed before the 2000 camp 
season, the Scout Council built the scouts a brand new archery range. 

David Picchi, the writer, experienced the time of his life as a staff member at 
Camp Lowden during the 1998 camp season. I learned that although the work was tough 
and the schedule was horrendous the gain was worth it. I was supposed to wake up at 
6:30 A.M. everyday. After sleeping till 6:45 I would go and get dressed in the BSA 
uniform for the day, weather being the largest factor. Breakfast was first thing on the 



Picchi 6 

schedule. This is where the fun began. I served 500 or more boys, and leaders, their 
breakfast in a buffet style atmosphere. Afterwards as with every meal there was a song 
and announcements from the individual Counselors. From there after clean up the day 
was a non-stop struggle to keep up with the energetic younger Boy Scouts. I taught three 
merit badges and was in charge of numerous Boy Scouts through the day. My favorite 
experience was the shelter night required for Wilderness Survival merit badge. The Boy 
Scouts had to construct their own shelter and sleep in it no matter the weather conditions 
that night. This proved to be very easy for me yet extremely difficult for the Scouts. The 
following mornings brought tired and exhausted Scouts who had a long hike back in front 
of them. On a normal day I was able to go to sleep and 1 1 :30 pm. I learned a lot of 
discipline was essential to keep up with the pace of the young and more tenacious scouts. 
Therefore at 1 1 :30 the lights were most definitely out. I remember that most of the free 
time he had at camp was spent on the climbing tower instructing and encouraging boys 
on how to go up and most of all on how to come down. I also indulged in the pool and the 
waterfront activities such as canoeing or rowing on the Rock River. 

Although the details of my camp season cannot all be shared in this essay what 
little that has been given is the writer's hope that all would want to experience the camp 
first hand. Camp Lowden is a dense forest of over 1,200 acres of oaks, elms, and ashes it 
remains that way today. Very little has changed trough the years at Lowden Park until the 
Boy Scouts decided to stay. For a look back in time, I would recommend this reader to 
take a chance to go see the camp or get involved with Boy Scouts. If this reader decides 
to visit please check in with the Ranger at his house when visiting. It is my hope that this 



pfc., 



Picchi 7 



reader will appreciate this park the same way that so many other people for so many 
years have. 



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Works Cited 
"Boys Do Honor to Gov. Lowden." RMS, Rockfordiana file BS 15 Sept 1944. 
"Camp Lowden held it's first week of camping today." No Title Given, Rockfordiana 

fileBS 13 July 1951. 
"Camp Lowden Given To Scouts." RMS, Rockfordiana File BS 23 June 1960. 
"Camping Fee Cut by Scouts." RMS, Rockfordiana file BS 12 May 1944. 
Department of Natural Resources at 

Http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/lowdensp.htm Pub 1998. 
"Dining Hall Corner Stone Laid at NIU Taft Campus.' No Paper Listed, Rockfordiana 

fileBS 1965. 
"Honor 25. Open Pool at Camp End of 7-yaer Drive." RMS, Rockfordiana file 

18 July 1950. 
"Old Eagles Nest Colony Was Inspiration to Many Artists." Star, Rockfordiana 

file 18 July 1961. 
Paper Pays For Scout Shelter at Camp Lowden." RMS, Rockfordiana file BS 

11 Aug 1944. 
Picchi, David. Photos, 10 Apr 2001. 



Legend 
RMS= Rockford Morning Star 
BS= Boy Scouts of America 



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Almost Like Home 

the Children's Home of Rock ford 



Debra Stiles 



Spring Semester 2001 
Rock Valley College English Composition I 



Page 1 of 10 



Almost Like Home 



Before the days of foster homes, homeless children lived in orphanages or on the streets. If a father 
was out of work or a mother was sick and unable to care for her children, and they did not have extended 
family to help, children were left to fend for themselves or placed in an orphanage for the duration 
("RocVale..."). Rockford, Illinois was no exception, but this city's "orphanage" was a totally different 
breed. The Children's Home of Rockford referred to itself as a "Home" filled with a "family" of staff 
and residents. From the very beginning, the Home was far different than the Charles Dickens' 
stereotype orphanage. 

The Children's Home of Rockford was 
originally founded in 1906. The first building 
was located at Sixth St. & Second Ave. It was 
purchased for $8,000 from RH Shumway with 
$1,000 paid in the first year and the remainder 
mortgaged at 5% interest. On 12 September 
1913, Mr. Shumway accepted $2,500 which had 
been donated to the home as payment in full, 
leaving the Children's Home debt free. When the 

home first opened, there were seven members of the "family" ("Children's Home Has..."). It was not 
long before the family outgrew its home. 

Plans for the new building were spearheaded by the Board of Directors, made up of 21 women, 
headed by Mrs. H.M. Johnson and the building committee (Mrs. Beach Maguire, Mrs. A.E. Ruthledge, 
Mrs. R.G. Root, Mrs. R.K. Welsh, Mrs. Clarence Goodwillie) ("Children's Home of Rockford 




The Children \v Home in 1906 

The Children's Home of Rockford "RocVale Celebrates 
90 Years of Service (RocVale Voices, Spring 1996) 



Seeks..."). For women to take this kind of initiative was virtually unheard of in that era, adding to the 



- 



Page 2 of 10 
intrigue of the project. Financial support for the undertaking was provided in several ways, including 
the Rockford Social Service Federation and associate membership in the Children's Home Auxiliary 
which cost $1.00 per year. Payment of 95 cents a day board was made by the County Board of 
Supervisors for children declared "dependent"and by board payment, based on income, collected from 
parents who were financially able. Pleas for donations were commonplace in the local papers, 
especially the Star and the Dailey Republican , and were generally quite successful. 

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on April 23, 1924. Mrs. H.M. Johnson and Mrs. Charles 
Segurd threw the first shovel of dirt. It was first estimated that the total land and building costs would 
be $80,000. Including the land, building, equipment and furnishings, the actual cost was reported to 
be $116,422,49 ("Yearbook...") - an astronomical amount in the 1920's! When the building was 
completed, a two-day Open House was held for the public on April 11 & 12, 1925. The children were 
moved into the home on April 25, 1925 ("Yearbook..."). There seemed to be little, if any, opposition 
to the project either, financially, geographically, or philosophically. The good citizens of Rockford and 
Winnebago County seemed to realize the tremendous need for the building, and the organization. The 




Photo by the Author, 
February 2001. 



Page 3 of 10 
general consensus of all sources seems to echo Freeman's sentiment about the Children's Home, "They 
were strict, but with that many kids, they had to be" (Coleman, Freeman interview). 

The three-story building was state of the art for its time. On the first floor were coat closets, 
restrooms, separate playrooms for boys and girls, a study room for older children, and a nursery that 
would comfortably accommodate 12 babies. The second floor included separate sleeping quarters for 
boys and girls. There was also a "detention ward" where new residents were kept until the staff could 
be sure they did not have any communicable diseases - this was the direct result of a recent diphtheria 
epidemic ( " Dorothy Melin, Superintendent ..."). The third floor was the really modern , most impressive 
area of the facility! It housed an "isolation hospital" where children with contagious illnesses could be 
cared for. The Board of Directors were especially proud of the fact that the hospital had a separate 
entrance, on the north side of the building, with no interior connection between it and the rest of the 
building. The hospital also boasted a nurses' room, three small wards, a bath, a sterilization room, 
a sitting room, and an open deck where sick children could get fresh air ("New Children's Home..."). 

Freeman Coleman was about 
seven years old when his mother had a 
nervous breakdown, after being 
quarantined while her seven children 
were sick (one after the other) for a 
year with scarlet fever and then losing 
her 18-month old daughter. The six 
remaining children were placed in the 
Children's Home while she recovered. 
Freeman remembers being able to see 









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Page 4 of 10 
his baby sister Martha Lillian's grave in the cemetery across the street and playing in the yard, climbing 
the "scrub pines, there was a tree house in one of them." 

The city of Rockford continued its "love affair" with the Children's Home for many years. 
Reports in all Rockford papers glowingly attested to its merits. In those days, discipline was seen as 
a good thing, and the public was greatly impressed by the 'tight ship' run by the Children's Home staff. 
A July 1, 1934 Register Star article, "City's Biggest Home for this Family of 100", said "Records of 
the children's home reveal both the heights and the depths of human nature. Visitors find it hard to 
realize that most of the happy and healthy little ones seen about are there because of death, divorce or 
desertions in the families." Freeman's only remaining sister, Lucille, who is eleven months younger 
remembers that she cried constantly for the first few days. When "one of the ladies" offered her a piece 
of candy if she would say why she was crying, Lucille sobbed, "I miss my brothers!" Arrangements 
were made so that Lucille could spend time with her brothers everyday for the rest of their stay 
(Coleman, Lucille interview). 

The goal of the Home was to prepare children for adult life as productive, contributing members 
of society. Every child was taught to make his or her bed, and to contribute to the well being of the 
"family." Girls worked in the dining room and helped care for the younger children. Boys painted 
screens and yard furniture, and mowed the lawn. Each child received a small allowance (which many 
of the older children viewed as wages for work done around the Home) to be spent on Christmas 
presents for their mothers, school activities and Sunday School offerings ("City's Biggest ..."; 
"Children's Home Benefits ..."; "Dorothy Melin, Superintendent..."). 

As with most families, social activities were an important part of life at the Children's Home. 
Birthdays were celebrated individually with a cake and party. "Trotters" (children ages two to four) 
celebrated with other children at their dinner table. Older children were able to invite friends from the 






m 



Page 5 of 10 
community in for a private birthday party ("Dorothy Melin, Superintendent..."). Groups of children 
occasionally attended movies as the guests of theaters. Children who were Boy and Girl Scouts attended 
all troop activities and marched in the Memorial Day Parade ("Children's Home of Rockford. 1937. . . ") . 
Hobbies were encouraged to develop individual personalities ("Children From..."). 

Holidays were celebrated in grand style at the Children's Home. Thanksgiving 1937 included 
the usual complete turkey dinner, followed by the children participating in a play, "The Thanksgiving 
Fairy" written by a resident of the Home. Annual Christmas gaiety included trees donated by area 
schools as the beginning of the Christmas break, dinner with all the trimmings, and a visit from Santa 
with a gift for each child provided by the Board of Directors ("Dorothy Melin, Superintendent..."). 

The Children's Home was affected by world affairs and tragedy as are all families. During 
World War II, a 12-year old boy learned that his brother, who had been missing in action, had been 



■"...; 



declared dead. He "took the news like a good little soldier, and straightening his shoulders, said, 'My 

n 

brother would want to be brave about this,' and retired to his room so no one would see his tears." [■<'" 

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When one soldier's wife didn't receive her allotment on time, she solicited the help of the Children's 

Home in caring for her infant. The case- worker at the time, Mrs. Margaret Sheldon, found a boarding 

home where both mother and baby could live and the "boarding home mother" was willing to care for 

the baby while she worked ("Mrs...."). When Camp Grant closed, there were many sad farewells as 

soldiers said goodby to their children. A soldier was granted leave to take his son from the Children's 

Home to his parents' home in Ohio to live for the duration of the war. The Star reported that "it had 

been six months since he had seen his son, and when he arrived he was afraid that the child wouldn't 

know him. When the youngster was put in his father's arms he looked curiously at the unfamiliar 

uniform, an then said questioningly, "Daddy?" The expression of joy and relief on the father's face 

made a scene that won't soon be forgotten at the Children's Home." ("War ...") 



■«■& 



Page 6 of 10 
Children attended Jackson Elementary School, Lincoln Junior High and Rockford High School. 
Beginning the first Sunday after arrival at the Home, children over the age of four ("Mrs. T.J....") 
attended Emmanuel Lutheran Sunday School. Members of the Junior League gave the older girls 
sewing lessons on Saturday mornings ("City's Biggest. . . ") . The importance of education was evidenced 
by various newspaper articles highlighting student achievements. The Star reported on 24 July 1931 
that a girl had graduated from Rockford High School with an excellent record, while one of the boys 
was preparing to attend Anapolis Naval Academy. Another article told about two girls who went to 
Chicago on an "educational field trip" with a group of East High students and paid their own way by 
saving their allowances ("Children's Home Benefits..."). Some of the "graduates of the Home went on 
to college. 

One of the former residents, who worked her way through high school and Northern 
Illinois Teachers college at De Kalb, was one of two college girls chosen to take a course 
given by Curtiss- Wright Aircraft Corporation for specialized work. She completed the 
course at Minneapolis and is now working for Curtiss-Wright. 

Another young woman who formerly lived at the Children's home and who attended high 

school and Northern Illinois State Teachers college, earning her way, is no in the WAC. 

She is Pvt. Viola E. Bailey, and she is attending an army administrative school at 

Richmond, Ky . ("Dorothy Melin, Superintendent. ..") 

In the summer, there was Vacation Bible School at Emmanuel Lutheran (City's Biggest) and, 

starting in 1945, groups of older children vacationed a "resort" east of Belvidere for two- weeks at a 

time. This tradition began when eight girls who had been visiting away from the Home were unable 

to return due to an outbreak during the polio epidemic. W.G. Wheeler invited the girls to stay at his 

farm until they could return to the Home. The girls enjoyed their stay so much they convinced Mr. 



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Page 7 of 10 
Wheeler to open the farm to all the school age children at the Home. A dormitory was built to house 
20 children at a time, and the tradition was set ("Swimming Hole..."). Upon his death in 1951, 
Wheeler's daughter, Mrs. Dora Hotaling, donated the farm to the Children's Home ("Summer 
Camp..."). 

The Home itself provided everyday opportunities for children to romp and play. A play yard 
for younger children was equipped with a small slide, swings and a sandbox. Older children had a 
playground with sandboxes, large slide bars and a "basketball basket" ("City's Biggest..."). Roller 
skating and stilt walking were allowed on the sidewalks and in the shelter. Two playrooms on the main 
floor allowed for poor weather play. In 1962, two basement storage rooms were converted to a rec 
room. The work and materials were provided by the Junior Matrons Department of the Rockford 
Women's Club, and a men's service group called the Sertoma Club. The room included a ping-pong 
table, weights (which the girls liked too!), crafts and table games ("Rec ..."). 

Physical needs were attended to in great detail. Upon arrival, each child was given a physical 
examination, which was repeated every six months. In the "hospital," vaccinations were given and 
minor surgeries were performed. Diets were adjusted according to need. Children who were 
underweight were given cod liver oil, a special diet and rest periods. Overweight children were put on 
restrictive diets. All children were allowed one quart of milk per day ("City's Biggest ..."). Freeman 
reports however, that they were never forced to eat or drink anything they did not want; he does not 
remember anyone saying anything to him about not drinking his milk. 

Each child had three sets of clothing with his or her name marked in them; one outfit was for 
school, one for play, and a "Sunday best" outfit for church. Some of the clothing was donated, but 
Miss Dorothy Melin, who became superintendent in 1933, also took the older children on individual 
outings to shop for their clothes ("City's Biggest..."). 



Page 8 of 10 
Permanent situations were sought for the children. Many, if not most, were temporarily placed 
at the Home during a family crisis. These children were generally returned to their parents after the 
crisis was past, as was the case with Freeman and his siblings. Similar stories were frequently found 
in local newspapers. A one-year old child whose mother who had been in the local sanatorium for 
several months remained at the Children's Home until she was strong enough to take care of him. Since 
divorce was much less common then, the effects were more noticeable and shocking than they are now. 
Often, a judge would place children in the Home until a divorce was final and custody was determined 

("Mrs...."). Parents of children who were temporarily placed at the Children's Home were allowed 

Cj 
to visit on Sunday's from 2:30 - 4:30 p.m. and sometimes were able to take their children home for 

weekends" . . .Parent's. . . ") . A doctor once brought a ten-year old girl to stay while he took care of her 

<< 

parents and brother, all of whom had pneumonia. As soon as they recuperated, the girl was reunited fji 

CI 

with her family. Occasionally, a whole family needed one-time assistance. Once, the police called and 

q 

asked if a family could use the facilities to clean up before going house hunting. The family car had 

P 
broken down on their way to Rockford and the parents and four children had slept in it all night 

(Children's Home Serves..."). 

For those children who did not have a permanent situation on the horizon, the Home arranged 

for adoptions or boarding (foster) homes. Older children (teenagers) were also placed in housekeeping 

or apprenticeship positions where they could earn their keep. Each situation was thoroughly examined 

to be sure all concerned were comfortable. During The Great Depression the Children's Home saw a 

record number of "doorstep babies. " "Parents who could see nothing ahead but abject poverty left their 

children on the doorsteps of fine homes. The police took the foundlings to the Children's home where 

efforts were made to trace their parents. When no clue of any kind could be found, each child was 

placed in an adoptive home." During the war, a marine wrote to Dorothy Melin, long-time 






•A. 



Page 9 of 10 
superintendent of the Home, addressing her as "Dear Mom," saying he hoped that was okay, because 
she was the only mother he had ever known ("Dorothy Melin Marks..."). 

Board was paid for the children in part by Winnebago County and by those parents who were 
able to contribute. Donations of money, clothing, food, and supplies filled the gap. The Home was 
also part of the Rockford Community Fund from 1921 to 1938. At that time, the Board of Directors 
decided to raise its own funds when the Fund could not commit to a meaningful increase in the annual 
budget ("Home to..."). The first annual campaign for maintenance funds opened on Easter Sunday, 
1939 ("Board of Children's..."). The Board was quite creative in their fund-raising efforts, including 
musicals, card parties, style shows, and an annual "feather sale" established in 1941. The feather sale 
began as a way to raise money needed to enclose all stairways as mandated by the state fire department. 
Bright colored feathers were sold throughout the city. The first sale brought in $1,422.65 from 
Rockford, with an additional $34.69 from the surrounding towns of Durand, Pecatonica and Winnebago 
("$1,422..."). 

By the early 1960 's, the Child Welfare League, whose guidelines the Home followed, had shifted 
its philosophy away from the institutional approach. The Home closed the nursery and announced that 
all pre-school children would be transferred to foster homes within the next year ("Nursery ..."). Gene 
Meier, then superintendent, said "the new arrangement will permit the staff to give 'more individualized' 
supervision to children ages 5 through 14." Those older children who needed extra care and attention 
would also be placed in foster care . 

In 1965, another major change took place in the Rockford Children's Home organization. The 
Rockford Register Star announced plans to expand its community service by adding a residential facility 
where teenage girls, ages 14 to 18, could gain homemaking experience (Children's Home To Be 
Expanded.. J. A three-bedroom home, with an adjacent apartment for the house parents, was 



:- 






Mk 



Page 10 of 10 
constructed at 1725 Arlington Avenue, near the existing Home. Six girls were moved from the 
Children's Home to the Helen Maguire Home for Girls on October 1, 1966 ("New Home..."). The 
'family living plan' encouraged a sense of responsibility that could not be fostered in an institutional 
setting with the girls taking turns planning meals, cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry. By October, 
1967, the United Fund of Rockford had assumed financial responsibility for the group home 
(Almost..."). 

In 1970, the Children's Home was put up for sale, and plans were put in place for another new 
residence at 4450 North Rockton Avenue. The quarters would take the form of a "cottage system," 
where children would live with smaller "families" in five individual "cottages" on the property rather 
than one large building as was the Long wood facility ("Foster Home..."; "Haven..."). By 1975, the 
Chidlren's Home was serving only teenagers, and was renamed Roc Vale Children's Home ("Children's 
Home renamed..."). By the 1980 's, foster homes had all but completely replaced orphanages around 
the country as well as in Rockford. Through a series of evolutionary stages, the Home officially 
changed its focus to meet the needs of "retarded" children in 1982 ("Roc Vale turns..."). Today, The 
Home is actually several homes scattered throughout Rockford, integrating children and adults with 
special needs into the community. No longer "almost like home," today many call Roc Vale "home." 



CI' 






*» 



Debbie Stiles Page 1 of 2 

ENG 101 NDF 
May 8, 2001 

Works Cited 

"$1,422 Helps Feather Children's Home Nest." The Star. 27 April 1939. The Rockfordiana Files. 

"Almost Like Home . . ." The Rockford Register Star . 25 March 1968. The Rockfordiana Files. 

"Board of Children's Home Chooses Eastor for Opening Its Drive Fund." The Star. 9 April 1939. The 
Rockfordiana Files 

"Children from Broken Homes Well Cared For." The Star . 24 July 193 1 . The Rockfordiana File 

"Children's Home Has Excellent Record for 1919." The Register Star . 30 December 1919. The 
"Rockfordiana Files. 

"Children's Home Benefits Raise More Than $600." The Register Star 17 November 1945. The 
Rockfordiana Files 

Children's Home of Rockford. 1937 Budget. The Rockfordiana File. 



"Childrens Home of Rockford Seeks $40,000, New House for 60 Children." The Dailev Republican . 
23 May 1922. The Rockfordiana File 



"Children's Home renamed RocVale." The Rockford Register Star. 2 October 1975. The Rockfordiana 
Files. 

"Children's Home Serves People in Varied Ways." The Register Star . 16 July 1946. The Rockfordiana 

Files. 

"Child's Home Quits as Unit of Local Fund." The Dailey Republican . 25 June 1938. The Rockfordiana 
Files 

"City's Biggest Home for this Family of 100." The Star . 1 July 1934. The Rockfordiana Files. 

Coleman, Freeman. Personal Interview. Home. 3 March 2001. 

Coleman, Lucille. Telephone Interview. 5 March 2001. 

"Dorothy Melin Marks Eighteenth Anniversary At Children's Home." The Register Star . 16 March 
1945. The Rockfordiana Files. 

"Dorothy Melin, Superinendent Of Children's Home, Finds Holiday Season Busy and Exciting Time." 
28 December 1943. The Register Star . The Rockfordiana Files. 

"Foster Home To Be Sold." The Rockford Register Star . 25 February 1970. The Rockfordiana Files. 



" 



Debbie Stiles Page2of2 

ENG 101 NDF 
May 8, 2001 

"Haven for homeless... each child has a 'family'" The Rockford Register Star. 19 December 1971. The 
Rockfordiana Files. 

"Home to Sever Relation with Welfare Fund." The Star . 26 June 1938. The Rockfordiana Files 

"Mrs. Margaret Shelden, Children's Home Case- Worker, Arranges for Foster Home Care of Children." 
The Rockford Register Star . The Rockfordiana Files. 

"Mrs. T.J. Floden Names Children's Home Board Committees for New Year At Meeting On 
Wednesday." 10 March 1945. The Register Star . The Rockfordiana Files. 

"...Parents Can Visit." 5 July 1953. The Register Star . The Rockfordiana Files. 

"Rec Room Blossoms in Children's Home." The Rockford Register Star . 6 May 1962. 

"RocVale Celebrates 90 Years of Service." RocVale Voices . Spring 1996. 

"RocVale Turns 80." The Rockford Register Star. 2 February 1982. The Rockfordiana Files. 

"Summer Camp Used since 1945 Donated to Children's Home." The Rockford Register Star . 

"Swimming Hole, Hikes, Featured." The Star . 28 August 1949. The Rockfordiana Files. 

"War Affects The Children's Home." The Star. 8 October 1944. The Rockfordiana Files. 



" 






Rockford's Old City Hall 




■£: 






Brad Donnelli 

RVC Spring Semester 2001 



Donnelli 1 



Brad Donnelli 
16 April 2001 
English 101 NDF 



Rockford's Old City Hall 



In our modern, fast paced world, people can often be seen talking on their cell 
phones, while munching on a sandwich and maneuvering their vehicles through traffic 
without the least worry. Because our world seems to be moving at a faster rate than ever, 
we don't take the time to stop and admire the beautiful buildings that were erected by our 
ancestors many years ago. 

Although this author stops short of declaring himself a world-renowned traveler, 
he has spent more than his share of hours and even days driving along our nation's 
highways. Almost every city that he has been to has its own unique flavor of architecture 
that invites visitors in for a delicious taste of the past and present. Newer, more modern 
buildings are quick to catch a visitor's attention. However, if people take the time and 
look closely enough, they can still find many of the "old relics" that were built at the turn 
of the 20 th century. 

Many of the "Grand Ole Gals" of Rockford, Illinois built back then are still 
thriving today. One building that has served society well and is often overlooked due to 
its close proximity to other larger buildings is the Old City Hall located at the corner of 
South First and Walnut Streets. 

The early 1900s brought about new and exciting ways of life for people. The 
Wright brothers' "aeroplane" got off the ground for the first time on December 17, 1903. 
The flight lasted 12 seconds. It was also in October of 1903 that First Ward Alderman 







Donnelli 2 

C.J. Lundberg introduced a resolution instructing the mayor and the committee on public 
buildings and grounds to take the steps towards selecting a suitable site for a new city 
hall. The City of Rockford rented office space in the Brown Building (Amcore Bank 
Building and South Main St.) for $1,200.00 annually. The Fire Department needed the 
space that was occupied by the Police court and general offices of the police department, 
and Alderman Lundberg thought efficiency would improve if city offices were located 
under one roof. The city also needed a new jail, which was also sharing space with the 
fire station on the west side. An author by the name of Fay Lewis, who was publishing a 
book on jails, had recently visited a number of prison pens in neighboring cities and 
declared that he had yet to find one equal to Rockford' s city jail in inadequateness, lack 
of sanitation, and other shortcomings ("City Hall. . ."; "First. . ."; "Rockford. .."). 

It was decided that city-owned property at South First and Walnut Streets would 
be the most resourceful site. A fire station was already in existence there and plans called 
for the new building to be placed on the corner, moving the fire station directly to the 
east. A court park with a fountain would be placed between the buildings making an 
ideal and attractive arrangement for the city departments. The original plans indicated a 
two-story building, but by December of 1 903 plans had changed to allow for three stories 
instead ("New City. . ."; "Tear. . ."). 

Bids for the work were accepted and three of the four bids received met the 
requirements that were set by the committee. Costs for the anticipated construction were 
fairly close, but the architects differed in actual construction and design of the building. 
On March 25, 1904, Mayor Jackson and City Clerk Scovill signed a contract with 



Donnelli 3 

Rockford Architect Dave S. Schureman to accept his plans for the new city hall 
("Sign..."). 

On April 1 2, 1 904, the Rockford Register-Gazette reported that firemen would 
not have to leave the station while it was being moved, and no temporary quarters would 
have to be secured for them. A temporary shed would be erected for the covering of the 
apparatus. The city firemen would do all of the work on the shed so that the only cost to 
the city would be for nails and other supplies. Tramps and vagabonds that wanted to 
work the equivalent of their fines off were invited to do so on the city rock heap 
("Tear..."). 

The city council found that the price for the construction of city hall was more 
than originally anticipated. The increases were brought about by changes in 
specifications that called for higher quality building materials and a more eye appealing 
city hall. Pearce Brothers was awarded the contract for construction. Completion of the 
structure up to the second story was to be through by the February of 1905 ("The 
Council..."). 

In January of 1905, rumors circulated that Rockford was being short-changed on 
some of the materials going into the structure. A petition was sent to the City Council 
signed by six petitioners stating that plans had called for eight-inch thick walls at the base 
of the structure, and they believed that the walls of stone were only four inches in 
thickness. Mayor Jackson believed the situation was serious enough to halt construction 
and warrant an investigation, but noted that the petitioners were men that he characterized 
as being disappointed architects, stone men, and contractors. All had been passed over at 
contract time. There was some merit to this. The majority of the six had failed at 



Donnelli 4 

receiving work on the project. On January 27, 1 905, he drafted a letter to Pearce 

Brothers' Construction Company advising them of the allegations, and to discontinue 

construction until the matter had been fully investigated. The company sent a letter back 

to Mayor Jackson on January 28, 1 905 claiming that they had done nothing wrong. They 

agreed to stop construction until a resolve had been found. They also agreed to abide by 

the decision on the outcome of the investigation (Buckles 87; Rockford City Council). 

The mayor appointed a committee to investigate the allegations and by the middle 

of February 1905, the panel came back with its findings. The panel reported that the base 

of the building was constructed of four- inch stones waiting to be faced with two-and-a- 

ci 
half inches of brick despite a requirement for eight-inch stone (Buckles 88). 

The next question was who was at fault, and why? Although the City Council | : 

"< 

seemed to lack the appetite for answers, Mayor Jackson was determined to find out and f! 

h\ 

pressed the Council for a resolution to this embarrassing matter (Buckles 88). 

(,\ 

Mljl 

Everyone that was involved in the city hall planning and construction appeared 

■i 
P 
before the mayor and city council for questioning. The city superintendent of 

construction, Alfred G. Larson disclaimed any "collusion" between his department and 
the architect noting by contract that the architect had sole discretion over any dispute on 
construction materials. He quoted the architect as saying that four-inch stone had been 
specified. The architect, D.S. Schureman, stated that to move up to an eight-inch 
thickness in the stone would have only cost the city and additional $355.00. The sub- 
contractor, Alex Clubb, admitted that he had a contract agreement with the architect to 
pay him a percentage of the profits on the stone but would not say how much (Buckles 
88). 



Donnelli 5 

Third Ward Alderman W.C. Butterworth, who tried to oust the architect much 
earlier in the project because of rumors of graft, saw his earlier resolution pass. The 
architect and the sub-contractor were fired from the project by the city council. 
Aldermen voting aye were: Woolsey, Holm, Olson, Johnson, Leonard, Butterworth, 
Clarke, Lathrop, Ogilby, and Carty. Aldermen voting nay were: Pearson and Tricknor. 
Aldermen absent were: Lundberg, Anderson, and Kimball (Buckles 88; Rockford City 
Council). 

Pearce Brothers, eager to protect their name, sent a statement to the council with 
the following proposal: "We will therefore take down that portion of the work in dispute, 
as soon as the weather conditions will permit, and reconstruct it in accordance with the 
plans as construed by the board of Arbitrators, and construct the balance of the work 
along the same line. This we will do in face of the fact that it means a large financial loss 
to us Personally". Alderman Woosley moved that the mayor be instructed to recall the 
notice given Pearce Brothers of January 27, 1905 rquesting them to stop work on the city 
hall Building and place the construction of the building back in the hands of the 
contractors in accordance with their proposition this day accepted by the city council. 
The motion prevailed. 

On February 3, 1907, City Hall finally held an "open house" to commemorate its 
investment of more than $100,000 (Buckles 88). 

In 1907, the new mayor of Rockford, Mark Jardine, stated that, "It was found that 
graft had honeycombed some former (city) councils and with the assistance of State's 
Attorney North, Hon. R.K. Welsh, and Corporation Counsel Rew, it was eradicated." 



Donnelli 6 

Corrective measures were taken but not stated to the general public, and stopped short of 
criminal indictments. 

The Great Depression in the 1930's caused tremendous hardship and suffering for 
people throughout the United States. Many businesses and banks closed their doors, 
which led to a severe rise in unemployment. People lost their homes and life savings, and 
often depended on charities to survive. The Manufacturers National Bank and Trust 
Company located at East State and South Second Streets in Rockford was one of many 
banks to meet its demise in the early part of the decade. 

The multi-floor structure was left vacant for several years, and a proposal to have 
the City of Rockford purchase the building for a new city hall was initiated by the East 
State Street Business Men's Association. The cost of the building was $125,000 and 
included all furnishings, real estate, and assignment of leases. On April 6, 1937, voters 
approved a referendum to purchase the building through the sale of bonds. Proceeds 
from the sale of the building would be used to pay a dividend to depositors of the bank 
("City..."). 

Planning started immediately for the big move of city offices to the new location. 
City officials were assured that the new city hall building would be theirs by August 1 , 
1937. Rockford's City Clerk, Elmer Strand, stated that the remodeling program would be 
limited in both size and cost. City managed services would use space on several floors of 
their new building. Any remaining areas not used by the city would be available to rent 
by business tenants and other interested parties ("Agree. . ."; "Remodeling. . ."). 






■Itl 
t 



" 



Donnelli 7 

On November 11, 1937, thirty-three years after the cornerstone had been laid at 
the Old City Hall building, city officials dedicated the Manufacturers National Bank and 
Trust Building as the New City Hall (Dedicate...). 

Life at the old city hall building changed drastically as calmer, often-mundane 
daily experiences quickly gave way to the fast-paced, sometimes even frantic way of 
living that police work brings. 

The police department took over the entire first floor of the old city hall. This 
was in response to Chief A.E. Bargren's request to centralize all offices of his 
department. The old city hall building would be known as police headquarters for the 
next several decades until 1 977, when the department moved to their present location at 

the Public Safety Building on Rockford's west side ("Police..."; Warren). 

"< 

Delbert Peterson became a Rockford police officer in 1 949. He began his career (")i 

C 
v. 

walking the beat. He spent time as a motorcycle cop, and then transferred into the traffic 

bureau where he was one of the first traffic officers to use radar in the 1950s. Before :; 

radar was used to nab speeders, police would lay down two strips of rubber tubing across 

the road then count the time that it would take a vehicle to pass through the distance 

between them. Del worked as a detective in 1958, then was promoted to sergeant in 1962. 

In 1985, Delbert Peterson became Rockford's newest Chief of Police. During an 

interview with Del, he drew a rough sketch of police headquarters when he was a new 

recruit. He pointed out a large vault that was located on the first floor. Delbert stated 

that the vault contained records at first, but eventually was used as the police 

department's first dark room to process crime scene photographs. He went on to say that 

film development had been contracted out to photo shops, but in the late 1930's a 



Donnelli 8 

newsman by the name of Fred James moved to Rockford from Chicago and taught the 
guys how to develop their own pictures. The only place in the building that the police 
had available was the vault. They purchased some used equipment, moved the records to 
the side, and set up their first dark room. Delbert stated that the dark room eventually 
moved to another area of the building as they acquired more space. 

This writer asked Chief Peterson about his memories of working out of the old 
building. Chief Peterson stated that workspace was always a problem. 

For one thing, was the way we booked the prisoners. It was done 
right out in the open. We would bring them in right off of the east 
entrance right to the booking desk. You would book them right there, out 
in the open and there could be two or three reporters standing around. Just 



C 



about anyone could be standing around. People would come in and out of 0' 

CI 
'<■'"■ 
the building all of the time. You might have an alderman or somebody 

else standing there. You shouldn't be booking prisoners in front of all of | : » 

i'i 

those people. There was no privacy what so-ever. Of course in later years 
it got so overcrowded that you could hardly operate out of the place. 
(Peterson) 
Another part of the building that Chief Peterson talked about was the large cell in 
the basement called the "pit". 

The pit was originally built for tramps. It was just one large room 
with a toilet off to the side. The ceiling was fairly low and there was just 
one long bench. That was the only place where they could sleep. They'd 
lay on top of that bench or just lie on the floor. There were no bunks or 



Donnelli 9 

mattresses or anything like that. It was terrible. Years ago there were a 
lot of tramps that would be going through town. They would stop at the 
local police station wherever they were and asked to be lodged for the 
night. We had a regular book on lodgings where we would sign the 
person in, get a little history on them and then allow them to stay over 
night. In the morning we'd give them something to eat but wouldn't 
release them until they were fingerprinted. Sometimes we'd get 
something back showing the guy was wanted, but by this time he was long 
gone and we'd have no idea where he went. 

I remember one time when we had a traffic class in the squad 
room. Chief Boustead invited a group of instructors from Northwestern to 



would have to walk by the pit to get to the room. When you'd walk by 
these people, most of who were alcoholics, they would beg for cigarettes 
or something else. We had this class for four weeks. The class itself was 
only two weeks but we split the department into half. Every morning the 
instructors would walk by the pit on their way to the classroom, and these 
people would start hollering and yelling at them to give me this or give me 
that. 

Anyway, about twelve years later I'm down in Miami for a police 
chiefs convention. There are about four or five thousand guys down 
there. This guy sees me, then walks over and says, "Hey, Rockford, 
Illinois". I said to him, "How do remember Rockford, Illinois"? I knew 



> 



come to Rockford to teach. The squad room was in the basement and you f"}i 

l 



13 







Donnelli 10 

who he was. He was one of the instructors from Northwestern that taught 
the traffic class. Now he's the chief at a small department in Virginia. 
"How in the hell could I forget?" he asked. "Every morning we'd walk by 
that pit and all these guys would start yelling at us," he said laughing. So 
that was a bad deal. The city jail was originally built to house 26 
prisoners. The second floor was originally just for the women, but later on 
they added more cells up there. There were times that we had nearly 
ninety prisoners so the overflow had to go to the pit. We didn't keep them 
very long though. They'd be in and out. 

When asked about some of the other problems that had to be dealt with on a daily basis 

Chief Peterson said, 

The building was hard to heat. One side of the building would be 
hot almost to the point that you'd have to take off your coat, then you'd go 
over to the other side and you'd freeze. It was hard to balance the heat. 
One side of the building would be comfortable and the other side would be 
uncomfortable. You never knew when it would be your turn to be 
uncomfortable. The air conditioner never worked real well either so it 
would get awfully hot in the summer time. 

There were other inconveniences. For instance, you wanted to 
treat your prisoners humanely, and even in the main cellblock area in each 
individual cell they just had a toilet stool. There was no running water as 
far as drinking water so we had a tin cup in each cell. You had a guy 
called a trustee and he would walk around the cell block inside and when 



Donnelli 1 1 

someone wanted a drink of water they would bang the tin cup on the cell 
and he would get the cup and get them some water. A trustee was a 
prisoner that you could trust. He would have a cell for himself but he 
wouldn't have to stay in it. He was free to roam on the inside of the block. 
The jailer would pick the trustee. The trustees would help out and even be 
allowed to wash police vehicles across the street. 
When asked whether Chief Peterson liked working out of the new or old station 
better, Chief Peterson responded, "It was easier and much better organized working out 
of the new building, but the old building had a different kind of atmosphere. It felt like it 
was home to you. For several months after we moved to the new building I would out of 
habit drive towards the old building when I would go to work, and I would catch myself 
and have to change direction. It was more enjoyable working in the old building but it 

I ■ 

I ! 

wasn't nearly as efficient" (Peterson). 

Odell Simpson hired on with the city in the fall of 1962 as a maintenance worker, 

■■ : 

P.'l 
and was assigned to police headquarters until he was transferred to the current city hall 

where he worked until retirement in January of 1 993 (Simpson). 

This writer spoke with Odell about recollections that he had about his experiences 
at the building. Odell' s recall was a bit rusty at first, but picked up speed as he raced 
down memory lane. 

Odell spoke about how he would climb a narrow ladder in the clock tower to 
rewind the clock's mechanism. A large crank had to be turned which would raise a 
counterweight. This procedure took about ten minutes and two strong arms. He and 
others repeated this practice every couple of days until the late 1970s, when it was 



Donnelli 12 

decided by city officials to allow the clock's mechanism to wind down forever 
(Simpson). 

Richard B. Anderson became a new police officer in 1 960. He worked in various 
areas of the police department. Some of the divisions included: patrol, traffic, records 
and reports, training and personnel, and the detective bureau. Dick loved working out of 
the old police station. Although he admitted that the switch to the Public Safety Building 
was the right move, he could not hide his loyalties for the "blue star hotel" jokingly 
referred to by the employees that worked there (Anderson). 

Brad Donnelli interviewed Dick at his home. He spoke fondly of his experiences 
and memories in the old building. One of the first stories that came to Dick's mind was 
about the annual visit from unwanted guests. 

All of the buildings in the downtown area used the same city heat system, 
which happened to be steam. I remember every fall when they first turned 
the heat on. You could tell right away because the building would fill up 
with cockroaches and centipedes that had been chased from the pipes. It 
would create a hell of a stir with everyone. (Anderson) 
He also spoke about the "pit" or basement area. "There was one large cell in the pit that 
on weekends would sometimes hold between thirty to forty prisoners. This cell only had 
one toilet and urinal, and also only had one shower." When asked how all of the 
prisoners were able to shower, Dick said, "I don't know. Most of the prisoners didn't 
care about showering" (Anderson). 

Dick stated that when he first started on the department the police vehicles were 
parked across the street in the basement of the main fire station. "As the department 



Donnelli 13 

grew though, we used the parking lot directly to the east of our station" (Anderson). He 
said that the paddy wagon (police vehicle used to transport several prisoners at once) and 
the ambulance were parked on the main floor at the rear of the fire station in the area 
where they also washed their vehicles. "We would occasionally use the prisoners that 
were in jail for minor offenses, we called them trustees. They liked to come over and 
wash the vehicles. The guys (police) were really good to them. They would buy them 
hamburgers and other things. It was much better than jail food" (Anderson). 

This writer had his own experiences as a young boy in this building. His father 
was a police officer and often brought him along to help wash the family car on 

ID 

i; 

weekends. They would use the wash area that Dick referred to earlier. Prisoners that 

n 

were not considered flight risks were brought over to wash police vehicles. If time 

allowed, the prisoners also helped wash the family car just to maintain their freedom a 

C 

i-: 

while longer (Donnelli Experiences). 

f 

If time permitted, this writer would travel across the street with his father to see if 
anything exciting was going on, and to have an ice-cold soda. They passed through many 
areas of the building that were not accessible to the average visitor. Memories of 
standing in a jail cell, while hearing the door creak signaling that it was closing, and the 
loud bang that would follow as the heavy cell door slammed shut seem like only 
yesterday to this writer (Donnelli Experiences). 

On January 27, 1977, the police said farewell to the old city hall building for the 
last time and moved into their new home across the river to the Public Safety Building. 
This move, like others before, was to help consolidate services and upgrade jail facilities 
("New life..."; Warren). 



Donnelli 14 

The old city hall building found its hallways empty for the first time since it was 
constructed in 1907. Visitors were rare. Odell said the only reason that he went over to 
the building after the police department left was to check on the boiler and to bring more 
records from city hall. In frigid weather, instead of walking over to the vacant building, 
Odell looked out the window from his warm office to check for a sign that the boiler was 
functioning properly. If he sighted smoke spewing from the chimney, he knew that his 
cold long walk could be avoided for that day. He also acknowledged that the police used 
the building for storage of stolen property and for their S.W.A.T. team training 
(Simpson). 

B 

n 

The Rockford Jaycees also sponsored a haunted house every October. Volunteers ;:;• 

filled the building for weeks prior to the opening of the "haunted jail" to make sure the lyi: 

»< 
ambiance was just right to scare the dickens out of their visitors ("New life. . ."). [") 

Scott Gredenius spoke about the times that he visited the haunted jail. "We used 

to go to the Jaycee's haunted jail with my church youth group. The thing that I remember ', 

h 
most was standing in line waiting my turn. Looking up at the large ominous building, 

and just knowing that bad people had been in prison there scared me before I even got in. 

My father wouldn't help matters any because he would tell me that many kids have gone 

in there never to be seen again" (Gredenius). 

Rosalynn Robinson is a curator at the Rockford Museum Center. She was 

assisting this writer with research and had her own story to tell about the haunted jail. 

She remembered entering the rear door to the jail section. Rosalynn said, "I loved the 

haunted jail. It scared the heck out of me. I never wanted to be last in line because 



Donnelli 15 

people would jump out and grab you. They would drag you towards the jail where 
inmates and other creatures would be waiting to scare you" (Robinson). 

Julie Fisher is the wife of this writer's instructor Scott. Julie remembered her trip 
through the haunted jail as if it were only yesterday. "I remember going through the jail 
with my friends. I was in high school and we used to go to as many haunted houses as 
possible. This particular one that the Jaycee's put on scared me so bad that I never went 
to another one again. I would go along with my friends, but would wait outside." When 
asked if she could remember what scared her so bad Julie stated, "I really can't say that it 
was one thing. There was just something about that building that frightened me bad 
enough to never want to go another haunted house" (Fisher). 

In the early nineties, the city council found itself with a building that desperately 
needed repairs. The cap on top of the clock tower was fixed because of deterioration due 
to age and weather. It was also at this time that developers started to actively look for 
buildings to renovate into living space in the downtown area. The city council hired a 
consultant to inspect the building and report back to them with recommendations. 
Reports came back that traveled the whole spectrum of possible usage. Due to financial 
constraints, it was finally decided to sell the building (Spivak). 

A developer by the name of Hank Zuba, bought the building for $1 .00. His plans 
were to renovate the building into a downtown apartment complex. Mr. Zuba stated that 
the old city hall would not be a typical apartment complex. "Every one of our units is 
different. They range in size from 500 to 1 ,1 00 square feet and will rent from between 
$385 and $535." Plans called for 31 apartment units. Although the project ran into some 



Donnelli 16 

unexpected delays, the units hit the market in late August of 1 995 and future tenants 
would be able to move in by the fall ("Workers. . ."). 

Kevin Behling, a project manager with Ringland- Johnson spoke with this writer 
on the telephone. He stated that the project was about 34,000 square feet, and included 
six loft apartments. He stated that that there were one hundred-thirty one windows in the 
building. He also talked about the unique clock tower apartment. The ladder that enters 
the loft is the same one that Odell Simpson spoke of climbing when he had to rewind the 
clock. When asked about particular problems that came up during renovation, Kevin 
said, 

We discovered the clock tower was in much worse shape than we 
originally thought. The mechanics of the clock were removed during 






renovation but I have no idea where they went. The bnckwork in the t )i 



tp 



tower was in very poor shape and we had to replace much of it, and many 
of the panes of glass were broke in the clock faces. That is probably how 
the pigeons were getting in. The faces of the four clocks were redone with 
a translucent glass, which was very costly. We removed the brick that had 
been used to enclose the front entrance and returned it to its original look 
with the two columns and a more open appearance. We were not able to 
replace the decorative capitals at the top of the columns that had been 
removed when the entrance was enclosed. The mosaic tile floor that was 
in the front hallway was refurbished and is still there. I believe the total 
project cost around $1 .9 million. 



< 



Donnelli 17 

The Old City Building is nearly one hundred years old, and most of the 
apartments in the building are occupied, including the clock tower loft. The members of 
Rockford's City Council who supported Alderman Lundberg's resolution to build a city 
hall, along with many others responsible for the construction of this beautiful building are 
long gone. The beet-colored building, like so many others built at the beginning of the 
20 century has stood the test of time, and with continued care should be around for 
generations to come. 







Donnelli 18 
Works Cited 

"Agree to Move Four Offices To New City Hall." Rockford Morning Star. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 6 July 1939. 
Anderson, Richard B. Personal Interview. 30 March 2001. 
Beyling, Kevin. Telephone Interview. 20 April 2001. 
Buckles, Stanley J. "City Politics and Government." Sinnissippi Saga: 

A History of Rockford and Winnebago County, Illinois. Ed. C. Hal Nelson. 

Rockford, II: Winnebago County Illinois Sesquicentennial Committee, 1968. 

' II 
87-89. 

p 

"City Awarded Sole Option to Manufacturers Bank Property." Rockford Morning Star . " 



Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. No Date. 
"The City Hall Seems Surety." Rockford Register-Gazette 8 Dec. 1903. 

Microfilm Rockford Public Library. 
"City Hall Project Is On." Rockford Register-Gazette . No Date. 

Microfilm Rockford Public Library. 
"Contract Let For City Hall." Rockford Register-Gazette 14 June 1904 

Microfilm Rockford Public Library. 
"The Council and City Hall." Rockford Register-Gazette 6 June 1904. Microfilm 

Rockford Public Library. 
"Council Sizes Up City Hall Plans." Rockford Register-Gazette 16 Feb. 1904 

Microfilm Rockford Public Library. 
"Dedicate Bank Building For City Hall Use." Rockford Morning Star. Rockfordiana 

Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 1 1 Nov. 1937. 



Donnelli 19 

Donnelli, Brad. Personal Recollection. April, 2001. 

Donnelli, Brad. Photographs. 

"First Flight." 20 th Century America A Pictorial . HoustonChronicle.com. 

Online Database, http://www.chron.com. 
Fisher, Julie. Telephone Interview. 23 April 2001. 
Gredenius, Scott. Personal Interview. 17 April 2001. 
"New City Hall Plan." Rockford Register-Gazette 12 Dec. 1903 

Microfilm Rockford Public Library. 
"New Life Seen for the Old City Hall." Rockford Journal . Rockfordiana Files, Rockford 



Peterson, Delbert. Personal Interview. 20 April 2001. 

"Police to Have First Floor of Old City Hall." Rockfordiana Files, 

Rockford PublicLibrary Reference Section. 1 7 May 1 937. 
Robinson, Rosalynn. Personal Interview. 20 April 2001 . 
Rockford City Council Minutes. 1 903 - 1 905. City Hall Vault. 
"Rockford City Jail is the Worst." Rockford Register-Gazette. No Date. 

Microfilm Rockford Public Library. 
"Remodeling of Bank Building To Be Limited." Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana 

Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. July 1937. 
"Rockford's City Hall— The Latest Plan." Rockford Register-Gazette 6 June 1904 

Microfilm Rockford Public Library. 
"Sign Contract For City Hall." Rockford Register-Gazette. 3 March 1904. 

Microfilm Rockford Public Library. 



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Public Library Reference Section. 25 Aug. 1982. «•■ 




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An "open house" was held for the public in the front lobby area by the Rockford 
Police Department. The photo was shot from the stairway leading to the second and 
third floors. 




Herman Brandt, who worked as a jailer and cook prepares morning coffee for the 
prisoners in the basement of police headquarters. 




The Walnut Street view of police headquarters prior to the late 1960s. 




The view at left is the First 
Street Side after the Desk 
Sergeant was moved to the 
front entrance of the 
building. Notice the "Blue 
Star" in both photos. 



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Police radio dispatchers were busy communicating with squad cars patrolling the 
streets. Radios became popular in the late 1930s. 



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Abdve: Members of the force wishing Charlie (seated on the left) well at his 

retirement party held in the basement. 
Below: One of the last recruit elasses that started out of the old police 

headquarters on Walnut & First. Standing for group photo at the front 

entrance. Notice the brick enclosure. 



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The Erlander Home: 

Rockford 130 Year Swedish Immigrant Home 

by 

Beth Halfman 

Spring Semester 2001 

Rock Valley College English Composition 1 




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Halfrnan 
1 



The Erlander Home: 
Rockfords 130 Year Swedish Home 

How many of us can say we have been in a home that is over a hundred years old? 
There is a home of this age with great ties to the Swedish immigrant population right here 
in Rockford. 

The Erlander Home is a historical place located right in most of our backyards. 
There is much available for everyone to see, learn and reminisce about in its enduring 
walls and solid foundation of over 130 years of Swedish Immigrant heritage. Why not 
take the opportunity to enlighten yourselves of this local treasure soon, today, now! 

It is easy to get to the Erlander Home Museum. When traveling west on Route 20 
take the 251 North exit. On 251 (1 1 st ) there are lots of restaurants such as Pizza Hut, Taco 
Bell, McDonalds and Happy Wok if a stop for a meal is desired. On the right-hand side, 1 
Vi miles into travel distance, PAPA Johns Pizza is located. This intersection is Harrison 
road. Turn left onto Harrison. 

Follow Harrison for another 1 Vi miles or two stoplights. At the second stop light, 
Kishwaukee Road, take a right. Traveling northbound for 2 miles turn left onto Grove 
Street. Due to construction on the bridge avoid taking College Avenue and 2 nd Street. Once 
on Grove travel to 3 rd Street. The Erlander Home is located at 404 S. 3 r st. 

Park the vehicle; step up onto the wooden, creaking porch. Feel the age of this 
building exuberating through the soles of your shoes. Walk toward the aged wooden tall 
front arched doors. Turn the tarnished brass doorknob, which many others have turned over 
the century. Once inside, absorb this house and its spectacular views. To the left, tea 
has been set for two in the parlor on a small round tilt-top cherry wood table. In the corner 



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Halfrnan 

2 

is a white kakelung, a Swedish stove, which was donated by the City of Stockholm in 

Sweden ("Threads from the Past"). This house is decorated in its entire Victorian splendor. 

There are tall structured windows with aged glass that distorts images, due to its material 

movement over time, when viewing.. The high ceilings are decorated with ornate ceiling 

moldings where fixtures hang downward, such as the 3-globe light, floating into the middle 

of a room. The house is enveloped by the careful meticulous skilled hands of years gone 

by. Has such beauty in a homes simple features ever been seen? 

John Erlander, an immigrant from Smaland Sweden, came to the United States in 

1854, moving to Rockford in 1856 ("Illinois State Historical Society" Star 9/1960). He 

thus became one of Rockford' s first Swedish immigrants. John Erlander was many things 

within the Rockford community, one of which he was president of the Union Furniture Co. 

when it was organized it 1 876. 

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John and his wife Ingastina were the first Swedish immigrants to have a brick 



house built in Rockford, which they completed in 1871. This red - toned brick home was a 
14-room Italinate Styled home, one of grandeur for its time, including scrolling details 
along the upper porch line, magnificent arching masonry bricks located above the 
windows and large scale shutters running the full length and width when shut . Great detail 
was given to the underhang of the rooftop as well. The same style of scrolling appearing 
above the porch could be seen throughout this underhang area around the entire roof line. 

Mary O. lived in the home the longest amount of time, 80 years. From 1871-1951, 
there was no electricity or central heating. Imagine living in this fashion, on a 
hot summers night no fans, heat rising in the bedrooms located upstairs. How about a 
freezing cold winter night, someone would have to tend to the fire to assure heat was 
maintained in the home. No electricity, meaning no everyday conveniences such 



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Halfrnan 

3 

as running water, automatic ignited kitchen stoves and no electric lights! 

When the home was acquired by the Swedish Historical Society of Rockford in 
1951, approximately $25,000 was spent in renovations and upgrades till 1952, which 
included electricity & central heating ("Open Erlander Home Museum" ). There was a 
large dedication held in April of 1952 by Sweden's Prime Minster Tage Erlander and 
Ambassador Erik Boheman, starting this buildings dream path into historical remembrance. 

After a yearlong renovation, many attended a preview open house, which was held 
on May 6 th , 1952. Miss Erlander had only kind-hearted things to say about the renovation, 

"T 

"It's wonderful. What a lot of work the Swedish Historical society must have put into this 
project. I am thankful at all of you for wanting to preserve this home." ("Family Roots as 
Old as Rockford"). 

This writer can only imagine the joy and tears Miss Erlander experienced on that 



years of her life. "I haven't heard an unfavorable comment yet," the vice president of the 
Swedish Historical society noted on this same day ("Mary Erlander View Museum"). 

In 1982 another renovation uncovered more of the past. The front parlor and sitting 
room was a major site of renovation, which was completed by Curt Bell of Architectural 
Restoration. Picture the removal of layers of paint and discovering wonderful artwork, said 
to be created by Mary O. She was a student at Rockford College majoring in art, 
even thought she never completed high school ("Old Paint Hide Pleasant Surprise"). The 
beautiful artwork was of floral frieze which bordered the parlor and lilies, placed right 
above the baseboard. 






blissful day. To have a home restored, which within its walls saw Miss Erlander through 80 



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Halfinan 

4 



Not many in our day and age would take the time to hand draw and paint such 
beautiful and heart warming pieces of artwork in the home. Also located in the parlor is 
black horsehair sofa. White lace curtains hang throughout the rooms' puddling onto the 
floor. 

One of Rockford's oldest pieces of furniture, made in Rockford from a cherry tree 
in the area is located in the house, the combination chiffonier and writing desk was made in 
1856. The Erlanders' brought many items to this country in 1854. Among these items the 
large trunk and handmade farm implements are still on site to view to this day 

It does seem that much has changed from that bygone era of the Erlander home. 
This writer thanks God for the Swedish Historical Society, for the preservation and 
opportunity given to all, for future gazing and fond remembrance of past times. 



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The North West Side of the Erlander Home 




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Front Entrance- West Side of the Erlander Home 







Photo by: Swedish Historical Society 




View of home from front entrance area. 
Note the picture of the Erlanders on the Wall. 

Photo by: Swedish Historical Society 







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Detailed floral frieze border & geometric 
frieze artwork created by Mary Erlander. 

Phntn hv Rpcristier Star 




Dining Room located to the left 

entrance area of home. 

Photo by: Swedish Historical Society 



: 



Outline 



I. Before the Build 

1. When 

2. Style of Home 

3. Who lived there 

II. How to Get to the Erlander Home 

III. After the Build 

1 . Renovations 

2. Impact on Community 

IV. Conclusion 






:* 



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Thesis Statement 



Erlander Home 



How many of us can say we have been in a home that is over a hundred years old, 
with strong Swedish immigrant ties? There is such a home right here in Rockford, which 
happens to be 130 years old. 

This is one of Rockford' s greatest ties, from which its Swedish population is fond 
of, intriguing all that delve into this captivating home. 



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Works Cited 



Hurdle, Norma. "Old Paint Hide Pleasant Surprise: Erlander Restoration Uncovers Original Floral, 

Geometric Friezes" Register Star: April 30 th ' 1986. 1C 
Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs Bureau of Tourism. The Erlander 

Home. March, 1991. 
"Dining Room Located to the Left Entrance". Swedish Historical Society. March 1991 . Photo 
Hurdle, Norma. "Detailed Floral Frieze". Register Star April 30 th , 1986. 1C Photo 

"Erlander Home Draws Praise: Preview Held". Star: June 7 th , 1952. 
"Erlander Home Mirrors City Life". Stan March 20 th , 1968. 
Halfman, Beth. "Northwest Corner of House". April, 2001. 
Halfman, Beth. "Northwest Side of House". April, 2001 

Halfman, Beth. "Front Entrance -West Side of the Erlander Home". April, 2001 
Halfman, Beth. "Garden View- East Side of Erlander Home". April, 2001 
Halfman, Beth. Cover - "Erlander Home". April, 2001 
"Family's Roots as Old as Rockford". Register Star : March 20 th , 1997 6B. 
"Illinois State Historical Society Plans to View Rockford's Illustrious Pastat Erlander Home". Star: 

September 25 th , 1960. 
"Mary Erlander View Museum: Preview Tonight". Star : June 6 th , 1952. 
"Open Erlander Museum June 7: Hours Scheduled" Star: June 1 st , 1952. 
"Threads from the Past: Erlander Home Displays Victorian Era Handiwork" Register Star: 



Photo 
Photo 
Photo 
Photo 
Photo 



February 13 , 1998. 
'View of Home from Front Entrance Area". Swedish Historical Society March, 1991. Photo 



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Rockford. Illinois 



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Steven Taylor 

Engl01,NDF 

May 6,2001 Taylor 1 



One Of Rockford's Original "War Babies" 

In the early 1940's in Rockford, Illinois, pride in the war effort ran deep in the 
hearts of the citizens. America was at war and the people stepped up to defend the honor 
of the country. Local factories rose to the occasion; Rockford had furniture 
manufacturers, along with food companies, and many industrial plants. All of them aided 
the war effort specializing in what they knew best in their fields. 

Furniture producers made tent poles for the army, food companies made packs to 
be shipped overseas to the troops. America was a proud nation of people with something 
to prove to the world and fellow Americans. On the local front, most men enlisted or 
were drafted into the service to fight. The women that were not in the medical field of 
war were called on to join local manufacturers as employees along with handicapped 
men. Every American, including teenagers on up, seemed to be helping in the effort. 

There was money available for area factories from the Defense Plant Corporation 
of the United States to expand. Metal chip-cutting shops were working around the clock 
producing materials to be used in the war. After most of the young men left to go to the 
war, many of the older men left behind worked long hours in industrial segments. Many 
of them were rich in knowledge that was needed to retool the local shops for making war 
materials. The city of Chicago, heavily populated with industrial facilities, stepped up to 
the challenge along with Rockford. 






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Taylor 2 



In 1941, the land was purchased for a plant at 2816 North Main Street, Rockford. 
It was a 7.7acre tract that the Wagner Family sold for $12,000 dollars, which did not 
include the home on the property. This tract was zoned for industrial purposes under the 
zoning act, which was enacted in 1938. The land was bought by the Defense Plant 
Corporation but would be operated for the government by the W.F. and John Barnes 
Company on a fee basis. William W. Barton was president of the company at the time. 
The Rockford newspaper boasted up to 500 workers would be hired at the plant ("Huge 
contract for..."., "Buy N. Main ST. tract...".). 

After the land at the Wagner site was purchased, the U.S. War Department 

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announced the construction of a heavy ammunition manufacturing plant to be built there. 

Large shell casings, 155 mm. and 105 mm sizes, were to be built at the facility. 

Architects Willis Hubbard and Clifford Hyland, who designed the plant, also supervised 

construction. A skeletal steel I-beam frame was put into place along with a network of 

underground bays to house the large machinery needed at the plant ("Buy N. Main ST. 

I 

tract..."). 

The square tower on the front facade of the building housed a water supply in a 
large container made of cypress wood. On top of the tower was an air-raid siren powered 
by a 400-horse power Chrysler hemi motor, which was recently removed by the Defense 
Department at the request of Essex Group Corporation. The weight of the motor over the 
years had cracked the outer structure of the tower (Cooper interview). 






II > 



Taylor 3 

White brick and mortar outer shell was visible from the road along with a lot of 
green windows. The plant was constructed of large modular shapes; Art Deco style was 
popular during this period. 

During World War II, the plant made shell casings, and operations were on 
standby during the Korean War. In 1 960, Essex Corporation bought the building from the 
government. Essex started producing magnet wire to be used in motors and transformers. 
When Essex obtained the building the floor space consisted of 45,000 square feet (Miller 
interview). 

There were factories of many different sizes sprouting up all over the Rockford 
area. Many of them were operated in people's garages; larger factories sponsored some of 
the smaller shops in order to finish large orders on time. The businesses that were created 
by the war were called "war babies". Wives played an important role in developing some 
smaller plants started by their husbands. The co-operation between Ben Carter and his 
wife Virginia resulted in the start of Carter Machine and Tool Company. This company- 
started at 3210 Bildahl Street in what was formerly a broom factory ("Many Rockford 
War-Born..."). 

In the 1990's the outer shell of the Essex building was sided with heavy gauge 
aluminum, which was painted tan with green trim. This gave the structure a more modern 
look; at the same time insulation was applied. This process covered some of the windows 
for better efficiency. A few years later, the parking lot was blacktopped. This cut down 
on the dust kicked up from the employees' vehicles. 






2 



Taylor 4 



The Essex building is easy to find. It sits on the west side of the Rock River. 
Route 2 winds along the mighty Rock River like a winding snake. Essex is on Route 2, 
which is also called North Main Street. When one draws closer to the building on North 
Main Street the plant has a peculiar odor. Most people say that the odor is that of band- 
aids. Strange as it seems, if you open a box of band-aids and take a whiff, "that's the 
smell 1 '! This is due to the baking process for coating enamel onto the wire at the plant. 
Magnet wire is now produced there. This plant has been through a few changes on the 
outside of the building over the last ten years. It has stayed relatively the same on the 
inside. The walls have been painted white with light gray trim and the green, red covered 
up. 

There are three large incinerators on the rooftop above the ovens. These produce 
very high heat levels. Incinerators are necessary to burn the enamel particles from the air 
before releasing to the outside atmosphere. The rooftop is flat with a rubber coating on 
top, which has always leaked in spots for years. The offices in the front of the plant are 
air- conditioned; the rest of the shop gets very hot in the summer time. The wire has to be 
heated to anneal it before the wire passes though the ovens. The enamel is then coated on 
the wire as it passes though the ovens in a baking process. The ovens are 7 feet wide and 
20 feet tall. 



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Today, there are 120 employees working at the plant. Magnet wire is aluminum 
and copper wire coated with enamel, this process requires the plant to work three shifts a 
day. The work on the ovens where the enamel is baked on the wire gets very hot during 
the summer months. The magnet wire is used for motors of all sizes and transformers. 
Magnet wire serves the purpose to hold a charge from a power source, and then the 
power can be regulated better and more consistent. The wire comes in many sizes and 
colors depending on the customers needs. 

Many of the Rockford's 'war baby' plants are still running and employ many 
people. Woodward Governor Company employs around 1000 workers at its Loves Park 
plant. This plant was built to produce materials for the war effort. Destruction comes to 
mind in most cases when one thinks of war however; Rockford is an example of 
somewhat of a war boom city during the early 1940's. 

There are still many old buildings in the Rockford area that were built in the 
1930's and 1940's. Many of them were brick; most were the darker shade of brown in 
color. Many of these building later became warehouses for factories and businesses in the 
area. Railroads were a popular form of transporting goods to these buildings in Rockford. 
The Essex plant still has old train tracks running though it in different area's of the shop. 



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There are reminders in the plant today of an era gone by. The old black, wooden 
block-style floor still lies across the main production floor. In the front offices there are 
old solid- core wood doors with smoke glass inserts. Along some of the walls throughout 
the building one can see the old steam heated pipes and radiators. 

This paper mentioned a few 'war baby' plants from the Rockford area. These 
companies pooled resources, materials and manpower, like links in a chain pulling 
together for the same purpose. This formula breeds pride in one's country and true 
statesmanship. The United States flag symbolizes this unequivocal sprit these people had 
during the war effort. This same sprit built the "war babies", and made them thrive. These 
buildings are true symbols of the sprit that made this country great. 



fill!! 



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Works Cited 

Barrie, Vance. Slide Presentation. Rockford Public Library, Rockford, IL. 

23 Jan. 2001 
Bruening, Jeff Open Forum Presentation. Samuelson Road Center, 

Rock Valley College, Rockford, IL. 30 Jan. 2001. 

"Buy N. Main St. Tract As Site For New Plant." Rockford Morning Star. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 8-23-1941. 

Cooper, Bill- (employee at Essex). Interviewed in person, January 22-2001. 

Cooper, Bill. Personal interview at Essex Plant. 2816 N. Main Street, Rockford, IL.61 103 

Essex Corporation. Photo scans. (8 total) 

"Huge Contract For New Plant". Rockford Morning Star. Rockordiana Files, 
Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 10-1 5-1941 . 



'Many Rockford War-Born Industries Are Expanding". Rockford Morning Star. 
Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 9-30-1945. 



v 






Miller, Ken- {employee at Essex). Interviewed in person. January 22-2001 

Miller, Ken. Personal interview at Essex Plant.2816 N. Main Street, Rockford, IL. 61 103 

"New Woodward Plant Okayed". Rockford Morning Star. Rockfordiana Files, 
Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 1-22-1941. 

"Sun Room Will Give Workers Florida Tans". Rockford Morning Star. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 9-19-1941. 

Taylor Steven- (employee of Essex). Personal experiences and recollections. 



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The Faust Hotel 
by 
Stephanie Peterson 
Spring Semester 2001 
Rock Valley College English Composition 1 



Peterson 1 



Stephanie Peterson 
English 101 
08 May 2001 



The Faust Hotel 



The historic Faust Hotel is a direct reflection of the man who inspired its name. 
Levin Faust was a Swedish immigrant who came to the US in 1887. When he arrived, he 
had only the shirt on his back. He was a hard worker with an inventive spirit and he 
quickly became one of Rockford's most well-known and well-respected businessmen. 
The Faust Hotel still stands today in remembrance of all that he contributed to the 
citizens of Rockford, Illinois. 

The Faust Hotel is a 14-story giant located in Rockford's "River District". It has 
seen many changes over the years, starting as a luxury hotel and over time becoming a 
low-income housing unit for the elderly and disabled community. 

For the first time visitor to the Rockford area, the Faust is not difficult to find. 
After exiting 1-90, it is a straight route down Rockford's main thoroughfare (State Street) 
and a visual trip back in time. From the toll-road, the drive is approximately seven miles. 

During the mid- 1 920' s a group of men concluded that Rockford needed a hotel 
that reflected its growing industry and population. They had a vision of creating a 
structure that would leave the masses awestruck. They succeeded. 

Rockford was busting at the seams. Industry was at an all time high and Rockford 
was just named the most prosperous city in the nation by economist Roger Babson. The 
magnificent Coronado Theater had just been conceived to accommodate the overflow of 
bookings from the Midway and the city was in desperate need of an equally magnificent 
hotel. What was happening in Rockford was not an isolated incident. All over the world 



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Peterson 2 

people were engaging in every imaginable excess (Akerlund 12). The decade was known 
for vaudeville showgirls, flappers, and speakeasies. 

Some facets of society though, were still clinging on to old values. On April 19, 
1927, actress Mae West was arrested for indecency. Authorities charged that her show 
on Broadway was too risque for general audiences. 1929 also ushered in the 1 st Annual 
Academy Awards show, proving critic Joseph Schenk wrong when he stated, "Talking 
movies are just a fad"(Clifton 371). 

Two years earlier three men dreamed of erecting a hostelry more opulent than 
anything the midwest had known. They thought it was time Rockford caught up with the j] 

rest of the world. Together they formed the Midway Hotel Corporation. Mayor Herman 

> 

Hallstrom, John Wester (a prominent 7 l Street merchant), and architect Eric Hall set out - 

to make that dream a reality. They held a drawing to name the hotel and among the !> 

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1000+ entries that were received, one was chosen. The hotel was to be named the Hotel 

„ 
Abraham Lincoln (Dahlberg 20). During that first year, the sketches were drawn, a 

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budgets were figured, and locations were pursued. It was a mere accident that the State 

St. site was chosen. The price was right, the land was large enough, and there was only 

one owner ("New. . . " Rockfordiana Files). 

Soon it became obvious that they could not handle this gargantuan task alone. In 

January of 1928 Levin Faust and eight other men signed on to the project. Mr. Faust was 

an extremely prominent and wealthy businessman. He held positions on the boards of 

more than 19 companies. This immigrant from Sweden was one of the city's most 

revered and well-respected men. Now the board was ready to begin construction 

(Dahlberg 20-21). 



Peterson 3 

The initial cost estimate was $1,866,000.00, a large sum even by today's 
standards. The board initiated a campaign to help finance the project, but when the 
community was slow to respond, Mr. Faust invested his entire fortune into making a 
success of the hotel (Dahlberg 2 1 ). Construction was well under way, but it became clear 
very early on that they were going well over budget. No one wanted to compromise the 
original designs of the hotel, so in February of 1929, 177 volunteer salesmen went to 
work attempting to sell the remaining 468,000 shares of hotel stock ("Drive..." 
Rockfordiana Files). The campaign was a huge success. Construction resumed, but soon 
they were again at the bottom of the financial barrel. 

Desperately in need of some immediate revenue, the hotel opened informally on 
April 30, 1929. Only 35 rooms were completed. By noon on that first day all 35 rooms 
were full. Those 35 rooms remained full and as the money rolled in, the rest of the rooms 
were quickly finished. Those rooms also filled and remained full. Three weeks after the 
informal opening, the hotel was at capacity. All of the rooms were completed and 
occupied. Over 1 ,257 people had stayed in the hotel ("1 ,257. . . " Rockfordiana Files). 

Reservations were being taken well in advance because the demand for rooms 
was well above the ability to fill those demands ("1,257..." Rockfordiana Files). Room 
rates varied between $2.50 and $3.50 nightly and the apartments rented for $80.00- 
$ 160.00 a month (Dahlberg 2 1 ). Suites were built for presidents and nobility. There 
were 387 rooms and 36 apartments and no more than six rooms were alike ("No. . . " 
Rockfordiana Files). The total cost for this amazing venture was almost 2.7 million 
dollars. The breakdown is as follows: Construction $1,901,130.00; Property (528 feet of 






Peterson 4 

frontage on 3 streets) $225,000.00; Furnishings $375,000.00; and Architects Fees 
$11 1,960.00 ("Total..." Rockfordiana Files). 

During a celebratory banquet and the formal opening of the hotel, its name was 
changed a third and final time in honor of Mr. Levin Faust. Without his financial and 
social influence, the project would never have come to fruition. Six hundred people 
attended the banquet that night ("Opening. . . " Rockfordiana Files). 

Despite the Depression, Rockford continued to prosper. The hotel also continued 
to do well. In 1940, the Faust was able to pay a second dividend. Business could not 
have been better. The Faust Hotel was ranked 9 nationally and despite ever-changing 
management, the hostelry continued to make a profit. In 1941 , one manager actually 
gave up his office to a group of people holding a dinner meeting. All of the other 
meeting rooms were full and there was nowhere else for them to go. The '40's truly were 
the hotel's finest years ("Hotel So. . . " Rockfordiana Files). 

A.E. Dufenhorst of Milwaukee announced plans to begin a half-million dollar 
revamp of the Faust Hotel, scheduled to begin April of 1947. This "program of 
rehabilitation" included an eight-lane bowling alley and recreational center, new laundry 
facilities, a modern coffee shop and drug store, and several other major improvements. 
The rooms were refurbished with new draperies and Simmon's Beauty Rest mattresses. 
All corridors and public spaces were re-carpeted, and fire doors were installed. The 
catering staff was elated to hear that the renovation also included a complete overhaul of 
the now out-of-date kitchen. Old equipment was replaced with all new stainless steel 
equipment and tile construction ("Faust Sold. . . " Rockfordiana Files). 



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Peterson 5 

In 1953, Frank Sweeney took over as the manager of the Faust. He convinced the 
hotel board that an additional $400,000.00 needed to be spent on additional renovations. 
Only the first floor was affected this time. Plans included more improvements to the 
coffee shop, the creation of the new Viking Grill, and a new formal dining room 
("Frank. . . " Rockfordiana Files). 

In 1954, there was discussion concerning removal of the two-story terra cotta on 
the front of the building and replacing it with marble. This improvement did not take 
place. However, once again, there were many other improvements scheduled. The 
coffee shop was again to be changed. This time it was moved back to its original location 
at the State Street side of the lobby. Many of the fixtures from the 1 st floor lobby were 
rearranged. The year 1954 also marked the beginning of renovations to the guestrooms. 
Fifteen of the kitchenette apartments received a complete overhaul 
("Add. . . "Rockfordiana Files). 

From 1957-1961 the hotel instigated a project to air-condition the entire hotel. At 
that time only the public spaces had air-conditioning. The schedule allowed for all 400 
units to be air-conditioned in four years at the rate of 100 per year. However, by 1969, 
this project was still not completed ("Faust: The..." Rockfordiana Files). 

The Faust Hotel Company began to look for a buyer for the property in 1969. 
The current owners decided that the hotel was not profitable enough to continue their 
interest in it. The price was set at 1 .5 million dollars ("Price. . . " Rockfordiana Files). 

In 1969 Lutheran Welfare Services wanted to purchase the building and convert it 
to housing for the elderly. At that time, Rockford Housing Authority was also looking at 
several other locations for this purpose. L WS argued that the Faust Hotel was in a prime 



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Peterson 6 

location because it was central to public transportation and shopping. After a two-year 
battle, the authority decided on an alternate location. Certain tax laws would require the 
cost of rent to be $30.00-$35.00 higher than estimated making the units unaffordable to 
the populace that they were intended for. When the final decision was made, the hotel 
went up for sale once more ("Price. . . " Rockfordiana Files). 

Donald and Dale Levinson were the investors that bought it. The Levinsons 
already owned the Rockford Trust Building and the Talcott Building. The sale price was 
not disclosed, but it was rumored to have been approximately 1 million dollars ("Faust 
Sold. . . " Rockfordiana Files). 

The Levinsons saw downtown Rockford as an enormous source of potential. 
They had a vision of revamping the entire downtown area into a hub for corporate 
headquarters and deluxe housing. Dale Levinson said, "We think the downtown area is 
on the verge or turning around and really becoming something. There is tremendous 
opportunity here. Within 10 years, downtown Rockford could be jumping at the 
seams"("Faust Sold. . . " Rockfordiana Files). 

The brothers wanted to turn the Faust into a deluxe hotel and office building. 
They made plans to build a parking ramp to hold several hundred cars belonging to the 
patrons of the new executive suites and posh river view apartments. They also wanted to 
establish a private club where the hotel's second floor lobby then resided. The last thing 
on the long list of changes was to complete the air-conditioning project that had been 
started ten years earlier. They appointed a new manager, Charles Mock, to take over the 
hotel. Mock had been in the hotel business for many years and he knew his way around. 



Peterson 7 

He actually started his career 31 years earlier at this very hotel as a dishwasher ("Faust 
Sold. . . " Rockfordiana Files). 

Mock ran the hotel well, but despite all of his good intentions, things did not go as 
planned. It was rumored that the brothers had lost their financial backing and within two 
years, they declared bankruptcy ("Hotel Conversion. . . " Rockfordiana Files). 

In 1972 Ed Hyland and Arthur Weaver obtained an option on the building and 
once again the idea for a housing complex for the elderly was proposed. Again there 
were too many complications with cost effectiveness and the project was denied a third 
time ("Faust Sold. . . " Rockfordiana Files). 

The Levinsons had little choice but to try and sell the property to pay down their 
debt. There was a hearing held to determine whether or not the trustee for the brothers' 
bankrupt holdings had the authority to sell the building. One week later they were given 
the green light to proceed with the sale ("Faust Hotel Sale. . . " Rockfordiana Files). 
Unfortunately, no one wanted to assume the Levinson's financial obligations as stated by 



the bankruptcy referee. No bidders appeared at the initial sale of the property and the 
Faust was quickly dubbed "a huge white elephant" by the media ("Faust Hotel 
Becoming. . . " Rockfordiana Files). 

Finally, in a 98-percent affirmative vote, Rockford's Tebala Shriners purchased 
the hotel on August 1, 1973 ("Faust Bought. . . " Rockfordiana Files). New owners, of 
course, meant. . . more renovations! The first thing on the list was the removal of the old 
14-foot Faust Hotel sign that resided on the roof of the building on the 4 th Street side. 
The sign was replaced with a new sign reflecting the establishment's new name, Tebala 
Towers. The letters were done in Arabic style and a huge lighted scimitar topped them. 



Peterson 8 

Elmer Harder designed the sign. His firm, Harder-Bietau Company, oversaw and carried 
out the replacement project. Mr. Harder was also the man that designed the original 
Faust Hotel sign that was retired that day ("Shriners. . . " Rockfordiana Files). 

The Shriners also had plans for the interior of the building. Many improvements 
were made to the ballrooms, bowling alley, meeting rooms, and lobby and 200 
guestrooms and apartments were renovated. All of these areas were left as public 
amenities ("Contractor. . . " Rockfordiana Files). 

In 1979, due to dwindling demand for downtown accommodations, Tebala 
Towers was gradually converted into an apartment complex. The Shriners remained the 
owners of the property, but Leonard Dickinson managed the building. Apartments 
ranged in price from $225.00 for efficiencies and $450.00 for larger units ("Tebala ..." 
Rockfordiana Files). The Shriners owned the building for 12 years. 

In 1985, Conner/ Alpine LTD purchased the property for the sum of 
$1,100,000.00. Conner/ Alpine was highly experienced in providing housing and care for 
the elderly. The hotel was renamed the Faust Landmark because, according to developer 
Richard Conner, "There is no other name for this building." This name remains today 
(Dahlberg 22). 

This writer remembers the first time she stepped into the Faust: 

I never really noticed the building before. Well, maybe I did, but it never 
seemed all that remarkable to me, until last December when I was enlisted 
to help my uncle move into his new apartment. The minute I stepped foot 
inside, I was absolutely fascinated! The lovely marble that adorns the 
walls and the beautiful chandeliers hanging in the lobby were breath 



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Peterson 9 

taking. This place exuded a history that I could only imagine. I knew that 
I had to learn more about this treasure of a building. All of the sudden, 
something I had driven by everyday for three years and never noticed, 
came to life. (Peterson experience) 
Mr. Levin Faust had once thought of building a home for low-income elderly as 
"a wonderful idea" (Dahlberg 22). He would be proud to know that it finally happened. 



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Works Cited 

"1,257 Register in First 3 Weeks." Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. No Date. 
Akerlund, Nels, and Gwendolyn Quirk. The Coronado Theatre: Rockford 's Crown Jewel . 

Friends of the Coronado, 2001. 
"Add $500,000.00 to Hotel Work." Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 24 Nov. 1953. 
Clifton, Daniel. Chronicle of the 20 th Century . Kisco, KY: Chronicle Publications, 1987. jj 

"Complete List Improvements at Hotel Faust." Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana 

I;"' 
Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 1 1 Sept. 1948. " 

Dahlberg-Jensen, Peggy. "Levin Faust: The Man and His Hotel." Rockford Magazine >' 

l IM 

May 1987. 

"Drive to Sell Stock Started." Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, Rockford s 

i 

Public Library Reference Section. 3 Feb. 1929. 

I 

"Faust Bought by Shriners." Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, Rockford 

Public Library Reference Section. 31 Jul. 1973. 
"Faust Hotel Becoming Huge White Elephant." Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana 

Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 16 Jun. 1973. 
"Faust Hotel Sale Hearing Scheduled." Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 18 May 1973. 
"Faust Sold; 'New Look' Planned." Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 1 6 May 1971. 



Peterson 1 1 

"Faust to Pay 2 nd Dividend." Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, Rockford 

Public Library Reference Section. 29 Dec. 1940. 
"Frank Sweeney is named as Manager of Faust Hotel." Rockford Morning Star . 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 9Jun. 1953 
"Hotel Conversion for Elderly Urged." Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 6 Jul. 1972. 
"Hotel so crowded that Manager Yields Office." Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana 

Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 15 Feb. 1941 . 
"New Hotel is Host to city on Saturday." Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 24 May 1929. 
"No 6 Rooms Alike." Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public 

Library Reference Section. No Date. 
"No Title." Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library 

Reference Section. 14 Nov. 1958. 
"Opening Draws Big Crowds to New Hostelry." Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana 

Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. No Date. 
Peterson, Stephanie. "Faust Hotel." Photos by the author. 21 Apr. 2001 
"Plan $200,000 Faust Project." Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, Rockford 

Public Library Reference Section. 28 Nov. 1946. 
"Price Tag set at 1.5 Million for Faust Hotel." Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana 

Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 1 Mar. 1969. 
"Tebala Towers to be Converted." Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. No Date. 



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"Throngs at Opening of New Faust." Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. No Date. 
"Total Cost of Hotel Faust Will be Nearly $2,700,000." Rockford Morning Star . 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. No Date. 



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Rockford, 1942 

A picture postcard shows the Hotel Faust and surrounding downtown area as it appeared in 1942. 



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The view of Downtown Rockford (looking west) from the 1 l l floor of the Faust Hotel. 




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This was the lobby ballroom in the 1930's. (above) 



This is the lobby ballroom today, (below) 




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This is a curio case that is located just off of the lobby. The uniform is one of the original 
uniforms worn by the bellmen in the 1930's. 



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Above is a picture of the sitting area located in the lobby. Below is the "library" located 
on the second floor. 




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Two Groups Occupy One Building 
Church of the Christian Union and the Rock River Valley Council of Girl Scouts 




By: Barbara Thomas 

Rock Valley College English Composition I 

Spring Semester 2001 






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Thomas 1 

Barbara Thomas 
English 101 
24 April 2001 

Church of the Christian Union Building 

The members of the Church of the Christian Union had outgrown its building. 

The steady growth of Rockford's business section, with commercial activity that 

surrounded them on the northeast corner of North Main and Mulberry Streets was another 

reason to seek a new place to worship. Plans to relocate away from the downtown area 

brought them to the new site at Auburn Street and Ridge Avenue. 

Reverend Dr. Thomas Kerr, in 1870 founded the Church of the Christian Union 

after he was expelled from the First Baptist Church in Rockford, Illinois. Dr. Kerr was 

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asked to leave the church because of his liberal views. Forty-eight members followed 

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him and on August 28, 1870, the first service was held in Brown's Hall. On October 26, 

1870, the church formally organized at Haskell Hall with 104 Charter Members ("Dr. 

Charles Parker Connolly"). For approximately 18 years they met at different locations, 

then found a home downtown on N. Main and Mulberry Streets. September 17, 1888, the 

first cornerstone was laid; January 18, 1 889, the first service was held in the basement; 

and on January 13, 1891, the church was dedicated ("Unity Hall"). By 1900, Reverend 

Dr. Kerr had spent the greater part of 40 years in the ministry and 30 years at one church. 

Reverend Dr. Kerr resigned from his pastoral duties in 1901 and became the first Pastor 

Emeritus until his death in January 1904. His replacement was Reverend Robert Collins 

from 1901-1906. Reverend Thornton Anthony Mills replaced him in 1907 and stayed 

until 1912, and Reverend Charles Parker Connolly became the minister in May of 1913 

("Dr. Charles Parker"). 



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Under the leadership of Dr. Charles Parker Connolly, the new church was built. 
The church had an option to purchase from Adolph Seise and a substantial down 
payment, but plans would have to wait until the sale was completed. Once the sale was 
completed, funds from that sale would be used to build outside the business district 
("New Building"). A. S. Seise, acting as a broker, would take possession of the church 
on June 15, 1940. 

At a meeting that was held by the members for discussion of the future of the 
church, construction of a new building was favored. They approved an appointment of a 
special committee to be elected to find a suitable location ("Church Favors"). The 
sermon at the last church service, held on June 15, 1940, had been taken from a 
scrapbook that belonged to the late Lewis Weyburn. Dr. Connolly's sermon theme "Dr. 
Kerr and His Associates" recanted the church history to the members from newspaper 
clippings, church publications, and letters that belonged to Dr. Kerr ("Dr. Charles 
Parker"). The congregation moved to temporary quarters at the Burpee Art Gallery and 
had their services in the auditorium for the winter months after a summer recess 
("Christian Union"). 

At a potluck supper, with a valentine theme, at the Masonic Temple, proposals 
were heard about a location at the corner of Auburn Street and Ridge Avenue ("Hear 
Proposal"). Members favored immediate construction of the church and the committee 
favored the northwest side because there had been a lack of adequate churches in the 
rapidly growing area, not too far from West High School ("Propose New"). The next 
meeting at the Masonic Temple the congregation voted to construct the building and elect 
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Stanton K. Smith headed a ten-man committee and was authorized to draw up plans and 
specifications, secure an architect sketches, and obtain bids for construction ("Church 
Votes"). 

Members of the committee with Stanton K. Smith included: Mrs. George F. 
Tullock, Forrest Lyddon, Raymond Roger, Mrs. Howard Countryman, Mrs. Hosmer B. 
Porter, Mrs. Fred Shoudy, H. K. Greenlee, Howard H. Hicks, and David Connolly. The 
tentative plans that were approved at the meeting included an auditorium to seat 200, a 
balcony to seat 50, a social room to seat 200 at tables, and eight study rooms. There were 
enough funds on hand to pay for the building from the sale of the old one. Consideration 
from the sale of that building was reported to be $65,000 ("Church Building,). Within 

60 days, the committee reported the plans for construction of the $40,000 New England 

III 
Colonial style church. Construction would begin July 15, 1941. The building would be 

ready for occupancy by February 15, 1942. Plans for the structure are as follows: 

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The structure would consist of brick, stucco, and wood. Three lots, 60 x 
20 feet were purchased for $3000 and the church would be built on the 
north side of the 180 by 120-foot lot so a parsonage could be constructed 
later on the west side of the structure. The building price includes 
construction of sidewalks, installation of plumbing and heating equipment. 
Purchase of other equipment including an organ, pew, furniture, kitchen, 
and dining room fixtures would raise the total cost to $50,000. The 
structure would have a 60-68 foot steeple and a slate roof. The main 
auditorium would be 48 feet long by 39 feet wide and have a seating 
capacity of 250. 





















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Class and cloak rooms would adjoin the foyer, with another class or choir 
room and the minister's study and library near the chancel. A small 
balcony also would be planned. 

The lower room would have two rooms for Sunday school classes at the 
front of building, two similar rooms near a stage, a kitchen and a social 
room 13x15 feet for the Thomas Kerr Club, and the dining room would 
accommodate 200 people. 
The members of the Church of the Christian Union would continue to have services at the 
Masonic Temple until the church was ready for occupancy ("New Church). 

The Church of the Christian Union was ready for the groundbreaking ceremony 
that marked the beginning of construction. The event took place on Saturday morning at 
8:30 a.m. July 15, 1941. Antes Ruhl, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and a Charter 
Member of the church, dug the first shovel of dirt at the ceremony. Members of the 
church, the building committee, and board members took part in the brief ceremony. 
With the construction contract awarded to John Anderson, the members were ready for 
construction to get underway ("Unity Church"). 

The cornerstone was laid on Sunday at 2:15 with a ceremony at the new location. 
The younger children of the Sunday school took part, and three small descendants of Dr. 
Kerr participated. The order of service closely followed the program at the laying of the 
cornerstone from the old church. A copper case was deposited in the cornerstone 
(Cornerstone Is Laid"). 

On Sunday, May 31, 1942, at a 10:45 a.m. service, with a formal program, the 
Church of the Christian Union was dedicated. 



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A printed program with an etching by Edwin Carlson, of the New England meeting house 
was handed out as worshippers were ushered to their seats. Afternoon services were held 
for the builders and then an open house followed. In the new Church of the Christian 
Union, brought from the old church were: 

The Nellie Brown Ruhl memorial pipe organ that was given by the late 
Antes S. Ruhl. The Robert Joseph Lundholm memorial window over the 
communion table was a gift in 1928 from Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Lundholm 
and was carried over to its new and lovely place from the old church. The 
bust of Dr. Kerr, which was in the vestibule, is now at the left of the 
chancel in the new church. The lectern, in the new church is the gift of 
Mrs. Howard D. Countryman, in memory of Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Kerr, 
her grandparent. Also, Mrs. Countryman placed her grandfather's desk in 
the pastor's study of the church. The bronze tablet, with Dr. Kerr's 
benediction at the laying of the first cornerstone in 1888, is on the outer 
wall, to the east of the main entrance of the new building. And, the new 
pews are noted as a gift in memory of many a family members. 
(Thompson). 
Shortly after the dedication of the new church, Dr. Connolly announced his 
retirement. He had served as the pastor of the Church of the Christian Union for 29 years 
and 1 1 years as Pastor Emeritus. Born in Warren, Ohio, he launched his career as a 
Methodist, changing to Congregationalist because he accepted Darwin's theory of 
evolution and what he called " Modern scientific views in general." Dr. Connolly was 
active in the community throughout his life. With Mrs. Walter Forbes and Dr. William 
Fulton, the Rockford Community Chest was founded; he served as the first secretary. 



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In 1938, he received the first Honorary Doctorate of Divinity, from Rockford College and 
was founder of Rockford' s first Mental Hygiene Society. He held lifetime memberships 
in many organizations and was member of the board of Booker Washington Center, the 
Salvation Army, and the Goodwill Industries just to name a few. Dr. Charles Parker 
Connolly died November 6, 1960 at the age of 91 ("Dr. Connolly Dies"). John Ruskin 
Clark, Jr. Associate Pastor, was named to succeed Dr. Connolly when he resigned. 

In 1943 Reverend Clark was called to the Navel Chaplaincy, and was succeeded 
by Reverend G. Richard Kuch, a recent graduate from Meadville Theological School. 
Jack Mendelsohn was called upon when Revered Kuch became Director of National 
Unitarian Youth Association in 1946. The congregation then called Reverend Victor V. 
Goff to their pulpit when Reverend Mendelsohn accepted a call from an Indianapolis 
Unitarian Church in 1954. Rev Goff left in 1957, departing in April for Oakland, 
California, taking the post of secretary of the Pacific Conference of Unitarian Churches. 
There was a different guest speaker at the pulpit till March 1958, when Reverend Deale 
accepted the call after he was released from his duties at the Fairhaven Massachusetts 
Unitarian Society ("Observance of 90 th "). 

At the 75 th annual meeting, members voted to incorporate the word Unitarian in 
the name of the church, becoming known as Church of the Christian Union, Unitarian. It 
was also reported at the same meeting that the church membership recorded the largest 
membership gain in the church since 1891. The church membership was recorded as 222 
members with a gain of 39 new members during 1946 ("Church Takes"). Forty-one 
more members joined the church in 1947 ("Union Church") and 18 new members were 
welcomed in 1948 ("Dr. Connolly Speaks"). 






























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On the morning of November 10, 1949, ground was broken for the new $18,500 
parish activity wing of the Church of the Christian Union, Unitarian church. The annex 
would be for an addition to the present structure. Jack Anderson would be the contractor, 
with Willis Hubbard designing the new wing, which would be approximately 23 x 33 feet 
in size, with a basement, and a ground floor. The new wing was expected to be ready in 
the spring, eventually providing a committee room and office, but first, it would be used 
for four classrooms, nursery room, and a committee room. Mrs. Eva M. Collins 
witnessed the groundbreaking. Mrs. Collin's parents were present at the 1 870 
groundbreaking of the first church and were Charter Members of the original church; 
Mrs. Collins was a life member ("Break Ground"). 

As early as 1952, the church knew that it needed more space because of the 
increase in membership and church attendance. This forced the church to consider 
obtaining large quarters ("Unitarian Church). By 1960, the congregation numbered 400. 
The church school and parking facilities were no longer adequate. Rescinding a decision 
to build onto the present church, the congregation voted to sell the 20-year old sanctuary 
and authorized officials to launch a capital funds drive for construction of another new 
building. Allied Fund Raising Counselors of Chicago was contacted and was hired to 
handle the church's fund campaign for a new building ("Church Maps"). The fund did 
not get under way till late spring or early fall though. ("Unitarians Approve"). 
September 10, 1966, services were cancelled because the church was in the process of 
moving into their new location. The Girls Scout Council had purchased the old location 
for use as a headquarters and training facility ("New Unitarian"). 






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The Girl Scout's movement started in Rockford in 1917. The first troop was 
formed at the Winnebago Street M. E. Church and was composed of 26 girls. Each of the 
troops in the area would work independently, but occasionally, the leaders got together to 
discuss Scouting and exhange ideas. A special meeting of what was known as the Girl 
Scout Central Committee, was held on September 10, 1928, in donated office space, 
located under the stairs of the Second Congregational Church. There was a motion made, 
seconded, and passed that a Girl Scout Council would be organized and affiliated with 
the National Council of Girl Scouts. The first by-laws were read and adopted and 
officers were elected (Whitehead, 5-9). 

The Girl Scouts had several homes, first a donated office located under the stairs 
of the Second Congregational Church (9). When they outgrew the space at the church, 
Mrs. Darwin Keith offered to set up headquarters in the rear of her N. Main Street home. 
The building, a small gabled house that formerly held the Copper Cup Antique Shop, had 
a second floor meeting area and a main floor office for the director (10). The Rockford 
Council was incorporated under Illinois law in 1930, with jurisdiction over all troops in 
Winnebago and Stephenson Counties. 

As school began that fall, there were 546 girls registered with 22 troops and 
Brownie packs (14). In the fall of 1930, Mrs. Keith could no longer loan her building to 
the Girl Scouts. So, from there they moved to the third floor of the Rockford Gas, Light, 
and Coke Company on the northewest corner of Wyman and Mulberry Streets (15). In 
1930, the Girl Scouts numbered 600; in 1931 there were 780; 817 registered in 1932; 902 
in 1933, and 1,167 in 1934. By this time the council needed a full-time secretary and in 
1932 the Girl Scouts moved once again, this time to new quarters in the Rockford News 
Tower Building where they remained until 1966 (17-18). 
























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Thomas 9 

By 1952, more than 3,500 girls in over 200 troops were meeting in the council 
area in nearly every public and parochial school, in many churches, and in every 
community center (61). For some time the council realized that the News Tower 
headquarters was too small. They also knew the newspaper would soon need the space 
the Girl Scouts were renting. There would be one more move for the Girl Scouts. They 
decided to look for a building that would be a central training facility, large enough for 
more than 1 ,000 volunteers, a permanent meeting place for volunteer leaders and worker, 
and that could serve as a program equalizer. In addition, space was needed for an office 
and a coordinating center for all the activities of the Council. 

A Relocation Committee was appointed with Elizanne Lewis as Chairperson and 
locations were researched before arriving at the final solution. In June 1966, the Board of 
Directors approved the recommendation to purchase the Church of the Christian Union, 
Unitarian, at 2101 Auburn Street (75). The final decision to purchase the church 
building was made in conjunction with an advisory committee of community leaders. 
The church building, which became the Girl Scout Center would have cost $170,000 to 
build. By purchasing the church building, it cost only $80,000 and they took possession 
of their new center September 1, 1966. 

Mrs. William Snyder was President, and she made the offer and the United Fund 
approved the purchase. Contractors estimated the building replacement cost at $250,000. 
Mrs. Fred Kampmeier and Mrs. Clarence Burr were committee members working with 
Mrs. Lewis. The new building would use the auditorium for council-wide events and 
inter-troop activities as well as a meeting place for several individual troops ("Girl 
Scout"). Mrs. Johnson and her family gave a $10,000 gift donation, which enabled the 
council to reduce their bank loan by $15.00 per month. 












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Thomas 10 

Morris Davis accepted the General Chairmanship of a fund-drive to raise money 
for the purchase of the building. Members of his committee called on heads of the large 
and small local manufacturing companies, foundations, small national firms, 
professionals, and persons on a Special Gifts list. Money was also raised and used for 
remodeling, decorating, new ceilings, adjustments in heating and lighting, and 
furnishings. For the fund drive a decision was made to call the building the Girl Scout 
Center. The name became so identified in the minds of the public and the Scouts, that 
another name was never selected. By July of 1967, $75,242,19 in cash pledges had been 
received as well as offers of work to be done in lieu of money. Rockford Black Top 
Company donated all of the blacktop for the parking area. 

The Scouts helped by making items that were needed for the Council. They saved 
green stamps and Betty Crocker Coupons for items for the lounge and kitchen. The 
building became more serviceable with the removal of the 20 wooden pews in the 
auditorium. They were traded to Spring Creek Congregational Church in exchange for 
160 metal chairs. Starting in 1967, the Council's share of the cookie profits, previously 
used for camp development, were put into a general property fund providing for 
improvements at the center, camp, and other properties as approved by the Finance 
Committee. The final report of the capital fund drive listed 2,525 contributors, 
individuals, special friends, and Girl Scout families and the amount raise was $85,191.69 
(75-77) 

The first fall council meeting was held in 1967. There would be two delegate 
council meetings per year. The annual meeting in May would be for elections, annual 
reports, revisions of documents, in-council recognitions, and other business. 



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Thomas 1 1 

The fall meeting was reserved for progress reports and other special business, delegate 
discussion pertinent to the work of the council, and community recognition. 

From 1966-1968, the Program Services Committee, for Juniors, Cadettes, and 
Seniors held monthly all-council Singalongs at the Girl Scout Center. The highlight of 
the 1971 semiannual meeting in May, was an announcement that the headquarter's 
mortgage had been paid off nine month ahead of schedule. It had only taken five years to 
pay the debts of the building and they celebrated with a burning of the mortgage at this 
meeting (85). 

Once again, the building that is now the Girl Scout Center, in 1981 and 1982, was 
remodeled. This time, the council called upon the services of David Jenkins & 
Associates PC, at 109 N. Main Street for the architectural designs. The blueprints were 
dated November 16, 1981 and the first phase of remodeling took place inside the 
building. The auditorium was turned into a maze of offices to be used by the staff 
members. Then an addition was added on the west side of the building. According to the 
blueprints, the first floor would have 4,1 18 square feet, the basement 4,1 18 square feet, 
and the grade addition would be 1,715 square feet for a total of 9,951 square feet of 
building space. The white double doors that face Auburn Street are no longer used for 
entering the building. After parking in the parking lot on the west side of the building, 
you will see another set of double doors that will give a person entrance to the Girl Scout 
Center. 

Mr. Tom Estes, who owned his own contraction business, worked at the site. Mr. 
Estes is the person who has the steeple from the church, sitting in his yard on Halsted 
Road. The Girl Scouts during their renovation in 1982 was going to demolish the steeple, 
and Mr Estes did not want to see it destroyed according to his wife. 





















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Thomas 12 

Tom Estes, had the steeple removed from the building with a crane at his expense, then it 
was trucked on its side to his home by a police escort according to Mrs. Estes. Mr. Estes 
stated, "We damn near lost it in the middle of Auburn Street, it was too heavy for the 
crane, but we managed to get it down and laid it on its side on the flatbed truck." Mrs. 
Estes then said, "Boy was I surprised, I had no idea he was going to bring it home." Barb 
Estes had a dream for the gazebo steeple that stand in her backyard, and that was to see 
her daughters married there. According to Mrs. Estes, one daughter was married, but not 
by the steeple, as it turned out last year, her granddaughter was the one who married at 
the steeple in the yard (Mrs. Estes). 

I went back to the Girl Scout Center, and when entering, you will be in a foyer 
that has been part of the new addition. There is a set of stairs to the left that lead to the 
basement. At the end of the stairs, turn right into a corridor, and to the left of the hall is 
the Presidents Room. This is the room used by the Service Unit Directors for holding 
meetings for their Service Unit Leader and Assistants. This room has recently been 
remodeled. Dark strips of paneling have been removed, and were replaced with a fresh 
coat of eggshell paint; the color lightened it up and makes the room look bigger. This 
room is called the Presidents Room because all of the past Presidents of the Girl Scouts 
pictures hung in room. They have yet to be replaced since the room was painted. At the 
end of the hall is the Training Room, the door was locked so I could not peak inside. 
Robin Henning, Senior Membership Executive, said, "The fireplace is still in that room, 
but it is not longer used." This is the room that was once a library for the church and then 
it was first used as a lounge for the Girl Scouts. Turning to the right is the Friendship 
Room; this once was the social and dining room for the Unitarian church. Robin said, 
"Now we use this room for programs, meetings, and troop overnights at the Council. 















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Thomas 13 

The Girl Scout Library was moved down here so that people would have more 
accessibility to the books that are in the cabinets." Also, I noticed an addition to the far 
back corner of the room. When I asked Robin about it, she stated, " This has been added 
recently, it's called the "Free Closet" and what it is, is craft items for troop leaders to 
come downstairs to see if there is any thing that their troop can use. It helps the troops 
out that are not financially able to do a lot of different things." According to Robin the 
items in the "Free Closet" are mostly donated, and Betty Moore, a volunteer, takes care of 
it by keeping it supplied, organized, and finding new items to add to it. Robin said, 
"Sometimes she goes to garage sales and picks-up craft items or, after the garage sale, 
people will donate what is left after the sale." As we back track, and walked up the stairs, 
there is another set of double doors that you enter and find the gift shop. Also, the 
receptionist along with the gift shop manager will be found in this area. Next to the 
receptionists office is a small doorway that leads to the suite of offices that are occupied 
by the staff members. 

Outside as you look at the front of the building, notice that the name of the 
Church of the Christian Union still is in place over the front of the double doors. This 
nameplate was not removed according to Cinda Rickey Asp, Director of Properties, 
Programs, and Training. She said the reason it was not removed was because it was too 
thin and if they tried removing it, it would break apart. Also, Cinda said that the 
cornerstone was not removed and the Girl Scouts did not put one in when they added on 
to the building in 1982. 

Today, in the year 2000, the building still reminds a person as they pass by that it 
once was a church even though the signs on both sides of the building proclaim it to be 
the Rock River Valley of Girl Scouting. 



































































































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STAB SUNDAY, JTJLY 1, 1900. 



DR. THOMAS KERR. 




r\R. THOMAS KERR, patriarch among Rockford's pastors, is looking^or^ 
M ward, to the time when he will surrender his pulpit to a younger man. In 
hl« sermon last Sunday he admonished hie flock to prepare for this step. itis 
Saiall wonder that the, venerable pastor found it hard to keep back the tears a* 
^f Spote of the parting. For the greater part of forty years he has preached lu 
Rorkiord, and since 1S70 has beea with his present charge—not charge, but fam- 
ily, aa, he loves to call it. Dr. Kerr's career has bepn in many respects au 
trnique tone, and hr.s covered a. broad range of activity. Born in the land of 
g»e heather he came to America splend diy equipped mentally for llfe'abatlle, 
fie took the d ;gree of medicine at Iowa university and practiced several year*; 
Jty» ministry beckoned to him and he entered the Baptist churchy -Thirty 
jyears ago he harkened to a broader faith, a more natural gospel, apd an- 
nounced he would preach it. Forty eight members of his flock followedhiu; 
into a new society. Friends told Dr. Kerr it would live sis months, and oik- 
tpore liberal than the others gave it nine months. How it has flourished is i £a<Jwn 
«*st and ; west, north and south. It is the oldest of the kind in the land, as Dr 
!!L an the late Professor Swing in this field by tivevears. Tojjreicn 

»rty years in one church is an uncon.i en thing and yet when one undenilunds 
< lov« that Dr. Kerr and his family bear to one another it is easily explained 
iretirement of Dr. Kerr from the pulpit will bring a sense of Borrow to 
«<• has Inspired, tau K ht, advised and been friend and brother to all 
aditionsof men. He has had a soft answer for unkind criticism; he 
-otd and charitable and sought ever to lead in the sunlight of 
Mpiog and brotherly love. He is truly a patriarch-one born ■ ruic 
m men. but gently and tender Iy. His life is an inspiration, an idea' 
e surrenders his pulpit to spend the remainder of hii$fcrs in his 
HI be the impression h« invest, - . 
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tfew Church of the Christian Union (photo at left) at Auburn streetVnd Ridge 



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Mrs. Howard D. Countryman studies bust of her, grand: i 
; father, Dr. Thomas A; Kerr, first minister of the,I|&ckford.' 
i Church of , the Christian Union, Unitarian. Dr. Igerr server!'. 
k-Cwm 1870vto 1901. , / .• 






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Thomas 14 

Works Cited 
"Break Ground For New Annex." Rockford Register-Republic. Rockfordian Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. November 10, 1949. 
"Christian Union To Occupy Art Gallery." Rockford Register-Republic . Rockfordian 

Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. September 17, 1941. 
"Church Building To Make Way For Office Structure." Rockford Morning Star. 

Rockfordian Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. February 18, 

1940. 
"Church Favors New Building." Rockford Register-Republic. Rockfordian Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. February 3, 1940. 
"Church Maps Fund Drive." Rockford Morning Star. Rockfordian Files, Rockford 

Public Library Reference Section. June 29, 1960, 
"Church Takes Unitarian Name." Rockford Register-Republic. Rockfordian Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. January 20, 1947. 
"Church Votes To Erect New $40,000 Edifice." Rockford Morning Star. Rockfordian 

Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. February 15, 1941. 
"Cornerstone Is Laid On Sunday." Rockford Register-Republic. Rockfordian Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. November 2, 1941. 
"Dr. Charles Parker Connolly Will Take His Text From A Scrapbook For Sermon On Dr. 

Thomas Kerr." Rockford Morning Star. Rockfordian Files, Rockford Public 

Library Reference Section. June 16, 1940. 
"Dr. Connolly Dies: Pastor, Civic Leader." Unitarian, Universalist Church Scrapbook. 

November 1960. 



Thomas 15 

"Dr. Connolly Speaks Sunday." Rockford Register-Republic. Rockfordian Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. October 30, 1948. 
Estes, Barbara, Interview. May 6, 2001 
Estes, Tom, Interview. April 20, 2001 
"Hear Proposal For New Church Friday." Rockford Morning Star. Rockfordian Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. February 21, 1941. 
Henning, Robin, Interview at the Girl Scout Center. April 19, 2001. 
"New Building Being Planned On N. Main St." Rockford Morning Star. Rockfordian 

Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. February 11, 1939. 
"New Church To Be Erected At Auburn, Ridge." Rockford Morning Star. Rockfordian 

Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. May 24, 1941. 
"New Unitarian Church Occupied." Rockford Register-Republic. Rockfordian Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. September 10, 1966. 
"Observance of 90 th Anniversary, Founding of Church of the Christian Union, Unitarian. 

October 23, 1960. 1870-1960. Unitarian, Universalist Church Pamphlet. October 

23, 1960. 
"Propose New Church in Auburn Street Area." Rockford Register-Republic. 

Rockfordian Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. February 1 1 

1941. 
Thompson, Barney "Column Left." Rockford Register-Republic. Rockfordian Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. June 1 1941. 
Unity Church Breaks Ground." Rockford Register-Republic. Rockfordian Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. July 25, 1941. 



Thomas 16 

"Unity Hall, Land Mark Of 40 Years, Yield To City's March Of Progress." Rockford 

Morning Star. Rockfordian Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 

February 21, 1941. 
"Union Church 77 Years Old." Rockford Morning Star. Rockfordian Files, Rockford 

Public Library Reference Section. November 15, 1947. 
"Unitarians Approve Relocation." Unitarian, Universalist Scrapbook. March 1960. 
"Unitarian Church Needs More Space." Unitarian, Universalist Scrapbook. May 13, 

1952. 
Whitehead, Beverly, "Founded on the Rock- A History Of The Rock River Valley 

Council Of Girl Scouts, Inc." No Date, P. 1-85 



The Glen Haven Mill 



i 



by 



Faith J. Long 

Rock Valley College 

Spring Semester 2001 



Faith J. Long 
English Comp. 
24 April 2001 



The Glen Haven Mill 

The Glen Haven Mill is a somewhat forgotten attribution of the past. It was once 
a bustling business, which supplied lumber to this small community of Byron, which was 
known as Fairview in the 1800's. When a post office was applied for, it was suggested 
that the settlement be called Bloomingville, but there were other settlements in the area 
close to that name. The postmaster-general asked for another name to avoid the 
confusion. Leonard Andrus, who was said to be the first settler to explore the Rock River 
Valley, was an avid reader and admirer of the poet Lord Byron. ( Byron Three Quarters 
of a Century ). Thanks to his input, the name Byron was given to the settlement. 

The Glen Haven Mill is located close to the city of Byron, Illinois. To reach the 
mill, start at the Greater Rockford Airport in Rockford, Illinois. Take a right off Airport 
Road and the UPS Hub is on the left- hand side. The name of this road is Beltline. Cross 
the bridge, which extends across Rock River and turn left at the stoplight onto Illinois #2 
South. It is approximately fourteen miles to the town of Byron. 

On this road the ride is beautiful any time of the year on this road. In the winter, 
after an ice storm in the early morning when the sun comes up, the trees sparkle, with 
every branch standing on its own with the weight of the ice. Some of them actually make 
a trellis across the road. The term "Winter Wonderland" comes to mind! The river looks 
like a thousand diamonds twinkling in the sweet morning light. 

A mile or so down the road, on the right hand side is an Old Garden Center that 
has been there many years. They sell majestic looking lawn statues. A little further 



down the road on the same side, there is an old deserted drive-in. The author has a 
twinge of remembrance of this place as a child. 

A few miles further, there is a farm that is split in half by the road of progress. 
The silo is on the right-hand side of the road along with a barn that was recently blown 
down by a windstorm in the area. On the-left hand side of the road is the old farmhouse 
and a building that the author quite treasures. It looks like an old one story castle! It is 
made of a non-descriptive stone. It has peaks in each corner and throughout the roof. 
The windows are small and rectangular in size and there are many of them. 

Prairie Road is about a mile and a half further on Route#2 on the right hand side 
of the road. The Shaley Kennels are located on the right side of the road about a half-mile 
further. The Lebon's Bar is located a bit further on the left side of the road. 

Just past Timberlane Trailer Court is Meridian Road. This is the halfway mark to 
Byron. Not much further now! Less than a half-mile from Meridian Road is a Historical 
roadside picnic area. This area was constructed in 1970 by Blue Star Memorial Highway 
Garden Department. The sign is hard to read, but the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. 
It is right on the Rock River. The historical marker is unreadable now, but the Blue Star 
Memorial Highway Garden Department built many such areas along Illinois rivers for 
people to enjoy. 

Two more miles up the road is The Blackhawk Motel on the left-hand side of the 
road. It is open all year around. It is right on the river and quite quaint. The people that 
own it are quite hospitable and enjoy their niche in life. After passing the motel is one of 
the author's favorite places to drive by: The Helston Brother's farm. They were friends 
of the author's grandfather. The farm has been there for over one hundred years and 



there is great stability in that. They are in their late 80's or 90's. Lining the road to their 
farm are some of the warmest maple trees in the county. They set against a white picket 
fence with the farm in the backround. In the fall, the colors of the trees are bright reds, 
yellows, and oranges. They are the first trees to turn along the river road. Holding one's 
breath is not uncommon when driving past these vivid colors when the cold weather is 
turning! Just know that the crisp winter winds are not far behind. 

After going past the Helston Farm, there is another rest area on the river on the 
left-hand side. Pass the gatehouse to the mansion a mile from the farm and go around a 
huge curve by the river. 

Rock River farms is on the right-hand side of road, along with Kennedy Hill 
Road. Continue to drive and pass Lake Louise on the right about one half mile further. 
They have swimming and camping May through September. They also have tan contests 
and disc jockeys through the summer. Drive into Byron. The Lutheran church is on the 
right side of the road, but keep driving. 

Go around the curve to the right and under the railroad underpass. Go to the first 
stop light, and the Mobil station will be on the left. On the right is Union Street Station, 
home of the famous annual Turkey Testical Festival. Keep going straight on Route#2 to 
the next stoplight. Sam's Drive-in is on the right-hand side. Continue on Route#2 going 
out of town to a Y in the road, (approximately a mile). Take a right turn onto Route#72 
and travel one mile to Mill Road. Turn right on Mill Road. Drive over the railroad tracks 
and travel one-half mile. The Glen Haven Mill is located on the curve, which is on the 
right. It is a dilapidated barn now. 



The Glen Haven Mill has a colorful history. The Fox and Saux Indian tribes once 
owned this land before the first settlers put claim to it in 1835. ( History of Ogle County 
590) Blackhawk, an Indian who was a descendent of the Sauk tribe, did their hunting and 
fishing on the very spot that The Glen Haven Mill was built on. There used to be a huge 
lake on it that came off the Rock River. On a quiet night, when the coyotes are howling 
and the trickling water from the creek is, a person can just imagine how it was on a 
peaceful night many generations ago. The settlers came to the area soon after the Indian 
wars in the Rock River Valley. Blackhawk and his tribe had left the area to move to the 
Wisconsin Dells in the state of Wisconsin. 

When Jared Sanford made a trip to the Rock River Valley on his way to Midway 
(now known as Rockford), he fell in love with the beauty and wildlife of this area. He 
staked a claim on the land, which is now known as Byron, Illinois. Jared then continued 
on to Midway and told his brother and his friend about this land. They came back to 
Jared's claim. They started a settlement, then known as Fairview. There were still some 
Indians around the area. Making friends with them certainly helped the men's cause! 
They had some problems with claim jumpers, but they were successful at starting a 
settlement. 

In 1837, Glen Haven Saw Mill was built. The builder's names were, Messrs., 
Joseph and Jared Sanford, and Mr. Brown. The community accepted this mill with open 
arms. There were no other mills close to this area. People had to travel for days to reach 
a mill. The nearest mills were Dayton, near Ottawa, Chicago, or Galena. ( History of Ogle 
County 592) The first gristmill was also built in Byron in 1837. With the mill's help the 
people were able to build their homes cheaper, sooner and with better quality with the 



lumber from Glen Haven. The wood from the mill was sanded, finished and treated. A 
far cry from the logs used in their rough form prior to the existence of the saw mill. It 
also provided jobs for local men and women of the community. Byron soon grew from 
only a few settlers to a village with a need for a downtown area with stores. A ferry 
business was also started on the Rock River to deliver goods, and possibly lumber from 
the mill. The Glen Haven Mill is now one hundred and sixty-four years old. 

In the mid 1900's, with the two other mills either being torn down or having 
fallen down, Glen Haven was turned into a barn. The Jackson family had purchased the 
building. They renovated it by installing barn doors and a few other changes. It was 
used as a barn until the weather caused a lot of damage to it. The mill was sold to Alan 
and Tim Barry about years ago. 

The landscape around Glen Haven has an abundance of hills and trees. There is a 
creek several hundred feet away from the old building. In the rainy season, it still 
overflows its banks and sometimes the water reaches the old stone basement, wearing 
away a hundred-plus years of the stout mill. The creek is miles away the from Rock 
River at this point in time, but is still greatly affected by the river's fickle personality. 
When the author was a child, many pleasant days were spent ice-skating on the small 
pond that still stands near the mill. In the summertime many children rode horses close 
by the mill, oblivious to the old mill standing there in all its past glory of usefulness. 

At this time, the mill is useful as a windbreak for the horses and cows still grazing 
on the land around it. Glen Haven still stands like an old oak tree, missing many 
branches, gone with the storms of time. The old mill house still stands, separated by a 
road of concrete. The road was gravel, and before that dirt. Working farms surrounded 



the mill, but now progress has houses and machines with cold metal jaws bearing down 
on it. 

The foundation of the mill is made of stone that is now turning to dust in quite a 
few places. There are still a number of original wooden screws holding together the huge 
supporting beams in the building. The roof has all but collapsed in the last few years. 
The upper story is all old, gray wood. The windows are all broken except for one on the 
side of the old mill, it still has a shutter with latches attached. Both big barn doors are 
gone. There is still a slight lettering which tells the year the mill was converted into a 
barn, along with the old owner's name. 

When the author steps inside of Glen Haven, her imagination goes wild. Who 
were the people that worked there, and built their homes from the lumber milled there? 
The smell of must and old is in the air. The floor has debris of old doors, lumber, and 
deserted harnesses on it. The building has a life of its own. It's alive with animals who 
take refuge in the over one hundred-year-old building. There have been sightings of 
owls, raccoons, cats, and other animals taking refuge in the mill. 

Walking away from the structure as it stands, the visitor has a feeling of 
hopelessness. It is a shame to see it rot and collapse as time goes by. There are likely 
treasures to be found in its ruins. It has survived many lifestyles, owners, and uses. Glen 
Haven has beaten the test of time for over one hundred years. Some of the people this 
author has talked to enjoy sharing the stories of yesteryear and would very much like to 
see it restored. 

Glen Haven is a very big part of Byron's past. There have been attempts to 
renovate the mill. The only letter that I found pertaining to this was just signed as a mill 



*^ 






buff. One source is interviewing people who live close to this site. Dave Henry has lived 
across from the site for thirty-seven years and has watched it deteriate. He would like to 
see something done to bring back the historical site. Another neighbor to the mill is 
Donna Hall, who would also like the only original mill in the Ogle County area to be 
restored. They would like to see it renovated instead of sold to land developers who 
would litter the landscape with modern monstrosities that would take away the natural 
environment forever! Different people interested in saving the mill have also notified the 
Byron Library. There are letters on file in the library from interested parties. More 
research should be done on Glen Haven Mill before it is too late. It could be something 
to be proud of for all past, present, and future Byron residents that care about history. 
The mill still has a life of its own. Surely the time of the mill's existence cannot be over. 
Come and visit the site some early evening when the sun is going down in the west and 
the gentle breeze is rusting through the old mill. 



Long 5 



Works Cited 



Bicentennial History of Ogle County, 1976. Published by the Ogle Country American 
Revolution Bicentennial Celebration Commission, p 635 

Byron Public Library District 
109 N.Franklin St. 
P.O. Box 434 
Byron, 1161010 

Byron Three Quarters of a Century , p 4 

History of Ogle County , II 1872, p 592 

Chicago H.F. Kent and Co., Times Building 

Everts, Baskin, and Stewart 

New Combination Atlas of Ogle County, II 1872, pgs. 46-49 

"Ogle County Life"\ Rock Valley Shopper , p A- 10 
Monday March 29, 1999 

Dole Mike 

The Register Star- Lifestyles , "Restoring a Relic" 
Thursday Oct. 12, 1995 



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Glen Haven Mill 

This old mill, west of Byron, was built in 1869 on pU^CrerfcjTwqTother, 
/mills stood nearby but have long been torn dowri.^ saw mill was built 
Sn ^837 by Sanfor d and Bio wn~and~a grist mill was erected by Wilkin- 
son and Spoor the same year. This is the only remaining mill in this 
area and has been used as a barn on the Jackson farm for many years. 







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Adeline Public School 

This sturdy two-story school was built in 1868, in the pleasant little vil- 
lage of Adeline. The village was laid out in 1845, by John Rummel who 
gave its name in honor of the wife of Thomas Turner, Congressman 
from that district. Summer Camp meetings are held here by the United 
Brethren who have a meetinghouse and camp grounds here. The Re- 
formed Church is another landmark of stone in the village. 




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District 16, Illinois State Police Past and Present. 
Intergritv, Service and Pride 

Scott A. Gredenius 

Spring Semester 2001 

Rock Valley College English Composition I 








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1939-1941 



1941-1954 






1954-1967 



1967-1970 



1970-1985 





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1985-1988 



1988-Present 




Gredenius 



District 16, Illinois State Police Past and Present. 
Integrity, Service and Pride. 




District 16 Spring 2001 

A few easy miles across Northern Illinois rolling hills west of Rockford, Illinois 
on Highway 20, is the State Police Station of District 16. Out in the middle of farm 
country on the western edge of Winnebago County is the northern-most Illinois State 
Police District (ISP Yearbook 1977-1982). 

This stoic 1960's building is non-descript constructed of pale yellow brick, one- 
story high and set back at a 45-degree angle off a four-way intersection. Many police cars 
and other vehicles are parked on the side and back of the building. After parking in front 
walk up to the double glass front doors and see the gold and black shiny Illinois State 
Police seal on the front right wall next to the doors. 

In the outer lobby one will notice a large map of Illinois on the wall to the right 
along with a wooden rack filled with brochures of all kinds from maps to rules of the 
road, there is also a wooden case with the names of officers that have died in service 
along with retired officers names from the district. As of this writing, no officer has been 






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Gredenius 2 

killed in the line of duty in District 16. To the left, a large glass case is filled with 
numerous bulletins. In front is a door to the right, and a large bulletproof window with a 
waist-high shelf that runs the length of the window. In the center of the window is a slot 
for passing small items to the person behind the glass. 

As this author reaches the window the sharply dressed trooper talks into a 
microphone. It is then the writer notices the speaker to the left saying, "Can I help you?" 
The author tells the Trooper "I have an appointment with Lt. Spence." He asks my name 
and promptly walks into the next room. When he returns, he says, "Enter through the 
door to your left." The long dull buzzing of the lock lets this writer know to enter 
through the door. 

Scott Gredenius is introduced to Lt. Spence. The Interview and Research 

Begins. 

In April, 1958 Illinois State Police District 1, headquartered in Sterling, Illinois, 
started as an experiment with the opening of new sub-post station 1 A in Rockford, IL. It 
was felt that District 1 had too much area to cover - eight counties in all at the time. At 
the same time the United States Supreme Court ruled that Little Rock, Arkansas, schools 
must integrate and the first United States satellite was launched into orbit. The new post, 
which was located in the old Rockford Armory in downtown Rockford, was set up in one 
corner of the building in a large room. Retired Trooper Gale (Pappy) Brown said the new 
post-covered Winnebago, Boone & Stephenson Counties. The room had bad acoustics 
and poor lighting, and the radio console was on an old desk (ISP 1922-1972 yearbook). 



Gredenius 3 




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The sub-Post Facility is at Pecatonica 

In September 1961, Sub-post 1A moved into new headquarters in Pecatonica, IL. 
The land is actually in Seward Township, not Pecatonica at the intersection of Hwy. 20 
and Rt. 18., known as "Pec. Corners.'''' 

During this time Illinois State Police had a heightened sense of alertness, due to 
world events then like, East Germany building the Berlin Wall and the 2,000 US military 
advisors being sent to South Vietnam. During that time there was a lot of civil unrest & 
rioting, which demanded an Illinois State Police presence to help keep order, most 
notably in the Chicago area. Trooper Gale (Pappy) Brown was in the middle of it on 
more then one occasion. 

The land on which Sub-post 1 A and now District 16 police station sits, was on the 
six-acre land of Homer & Katie Heffran. They owned a small restaurant/gas station on 
the spot on which the station now stands. Police officers and truckers came from all 
around to eat and have coffee at "Katie's place" as it was unofficially called. According 
to Trooper Brown, "Katie would give you anything." He wondered how she ever made 
money. After Homer passed away, Katie wanted to sell the land to the Illinois State 
Police. The State Police wanted the land because it was the highest point in Winnebago 
County, great for a radio transmitter. Back in those days, radio transmissions and 



. _. 



Gredenius 4 



reception were very poor. At some places in the district troopers could not use the radios. 
In those cases, officers had to find a phone many times. Trooper Brown said, 

"During a traffic stop it could take 30 to 45 minutes to do a license check". 
Radio transmissions were relayed down to Springfield. 

Bids were taken on Katie's place and land across the street. Katie told the local 
Illinois State Police that she would give the property away if she were under bid. Today 
the ISP has enjoyed 39 years on that land (Brown, Gale). 




Trooper Mike Lowery 
This author was able to interview Trooper Mike Lowery, a 31 -year veteran of 

District 16. Mike related that when he joined the Illinois State Police in March 1970 he 

and his buddy Joe Johnson were assigned to District 1 . Upon coming up to Sterling, IL. 

District 1 with two other new Troopers, they were given the choice of two troopers to 

stay in District one and two troopers to Sub-post 1 A. Mike and Joe took Sub-post 1 A. 



Gredenius 5 

Mike tells of how he and Joe started out one night to drive up to Freeport, Illinois, finding 
the new post in Pecatonica and introducing themselves to the station. After spending 4-6 
weeks with their field-training officers they were cut loose to patrol by themselves. In 
those days they only had police radios in the squad cars. 

We also used the CB radio's back then. The first week on the job I 
remember I was driving through Freeport when I noticed a heavyset 
woman running across a field shouting "Kill me! Kill me!" This lady ran 
right out into traffic. Fortunately other drivers had seen her and slowed 
down enough not to hit her. I stopped and got out of my car and tried to 
grab this lady. At the same time a nurse stopped and offered help. I asked 
her to call the Freeport police and get me some help. 
Imagine a 150-pound young kid out there trying to handcuff this big crazy 
lady. When the Freeport Police officer showed up. He said, "Great job, 
Trooper." That was my first incident other than traffic as a new Trooper. 
Today, Mike is no longer just a regular highway trooper. He is now a truck 
officer. In short, he does most of his daily patrolling looking for overweight and bad 
equipment on semi-trucks. Mike told this writer that he loves his job. He could have 
retired a few years ago, but enjoys what he does too much. 

I take great satisfaction in getting an overweight-truck and putting them 
Out of service. To me it is like finding drugs on every traffic stop. 

This writer also had the opportunity to go for a ride-a-long with Trooper Dan 
Ramey. Dan started out as a Freeport police officer in 1993 and then joined the Illinois 
State Police in 1997. Dan's father is a retired Illinois State Police Trooper. 



Gredenius 6 

Also, this author met Troopers Bill and Carl Henitz, brothers that work in the 

same District 16. Their father, William Henitz, retired as a Lieutenant from the Illinois 

State Police. 

While interviewing Viki Brown a telecommunicator for District 16, the writer 

learned that her father was Gale (Pappy) Brown, and her godfather was once the Director 

for the Department of Law Enforcement for Illinois. Viki relates, 

The changes in communications have come a long way since the days my 
father was on patrol. Troopers no longer have to find a phone to call in 
reports or other things. With today's radios and different channels 
available to Troopers, along with cell phones and the latest in in-car 
computers, officers can have all a person's license, traffic/driving, and 
criminal history background before even getting out of the car. All thanks 
to computers and modern radios. We also handle all the communications 
for other Illinois law enforcement departments like Conservation Police, 
Secretary of State Police, Investigations, Executive security and air 
patrols. 

While talking with Viki, it was learned that Pappy Brown, upon retiring from the Illinois 

State Police became the Police Chief for the village of Roscoe, IL. Small world. 

This author was once a part-time police officer for the Village of Roscoe, IL. 

Trooper Daniel Balsley was also a police officer for Roscoe. Dan worked for five 

Years for Roscoe before joining the Illinois State Police. Dan was also this writer's 

(FTO) Field Training Officer and a good friend. 



Gredenius 7 




Trooper Daniel Balsley 

During the author's research he found that a number of other Troopers retired to 
Become police chiefs. Retired Lt. Patrick L. Carrigan is now the Police Chief of Loves 
Park, Illinois. Retired Captain Dick Pratt became Police Chief of Galena, Illinois, after 
some problems arose within the police department back in the early 1990's. 

In conclusion from the humble beginnings of 1958 to 2001 District 16 has seen a 
lot of changes in area covered to, technology improvements. In 1958 Sub-post 1 A was 
only manned with one sergeant, one corporal and only 20 troopers to cover three 
counties. In relationship to today, the District 16 Post has the following personnel 
working: one captain, two lieutenants, five master sergeants, four sergeants, 35 trooper, 
twelve telecommunicators, twelve special agents and six civilians to cover four counties 
including now JoDavis. These numbers change slightly due to retirements, promotions, 
duty area changes, etc. Today's trooper is better trained and supplied to handle a wide 
variety of law enforcement day-to-day challenges. Whatever kind of future becomes of 
the district is sure to be no problem for the Illinois State Police to adapt or already be 
ahead of any problems that may arise. This family-type atmosphere and actual family ties 



Gredenius 8 



is a strong bond between these men and women. Indeed these people exude Integrity, 
Service and Pride. (ISP) 



Gredenius 9 



Works Cited 



Balsley, Daniel. Trooper. Personal interview & Ride-a-long. 17 Mar. 2001. 

Brown, Gale (Pappy). Retired Trooper. Personal interview. 9 Mar. 2001. 

Brown, Viki. Telecommunications. Personal interview. 17 Mar. 2001. 

Grossglauser, Schatzi. Telecommunications. Personal interview. 10 Mar. 2001. 

Henitz, Bill. Trooper. Personal interview. 17 Mar. 2001. 

Henitz, Carl. Trooper. Personal interview. 17 Mar. 2001. 

Illinois State Police. 1922-1972 Illinois State Police yearbook. Illinois, 1972. 12, 1 10-1 12 

Illinois State Police. 1977-1982 Illinois State Police yearbook. Illinois, 1982. 109 

Illinois State Police. 1989 Illinois State Police yearbook . Illinois, 1989. 168-169 

Illinois State Police. 1997 75 th Anniversary Illinois State Police yearbook . Illinois, 1997. 

Lowery, Mike. Trooper. Personal interview. 1 Mar. 2001. 

Ramey, Daniel. Trooper. Personal interview & Ride-a-long. 10 Mar. 2001. 

Reittinger, Mike. Telecommunications. Personal interview. 10 Mar. 2001. 

Spence, Harold. Lieutenant. Personal interview. 25 Feb. 2001. 




T.C. Mike Reittinger 



Lockwood Park Children 's Farm 



By: Errika Kerwin 

Spring Semester 2001 

Rock Valley College English Composition I 



Errika Kerwin 
English 101 
May 7, 2001 



Kerwin - 1 
Lockwood Park Children's Farm 



Lockwood Park Children's Farm, one of Rockford's fun spots, has been enjoyed by 
Rockford area families for over thirty years. Whether it is children learning about 
milking cows or riding the trails at Trailside, everyone is sure to have at least 
one memory of Lockwood Park Children's Farm. 

The park, formerly known as Quarry Hill Park, started as a sprawling 
1 15-acre farm that was owned by Col. & Mrs. D.E. Wheeler. The land was home for a 2- 
story eggshell white farmhouse and a traditional large, red barn on the property that sat 
atop a grassy hillside overlooking a small quarry. A creek ran through the lower part of 
the hillside and into the quarry. The breathtaking view from the farmhouse was as 
picturesque as a German valley. 

The Rockford Park District decided to purchase this land in December, 1969 for 
$30,250. The house was not part of the sale, however, the red barn was. The plan for 
the land was originally for a buying and improvement program. The plan was to 
combine Anna Page Park and the 201 -acre Searles Memorial Park. The three tracts 
totaled almost 600 acres. The combination of these three tracts would make the park one 
of the largest in Northern Illinois. The plan for the farm was to create a Children's Farm 
and construct bridle paths in hopes of servicing horsemen and children of all ages. The 
completion date was set for Spring 1970. (The Rockford Morning Star, Dec.4, 1969) 

The Park District opened the Children's Farm on Saturday, July 1 1 th 1970. Over 1000 
children and adults attended this opening. The hours of operation were 10 a.m. until dusk 
and open daily. The cost was 25 cents for children and 50 cents for adults. Some of the 
features of the farm were feeding goats and lambs. Visitors could see cows and 
horses in a farm setting. Raccoons, foxes and eagles were some of their more exotic 



Kerwin - 2 

animals. These animals were in steel, silo-type, fully exposed cages. This gave children 
an opportunity to gaze at these wonderful creatures from every angle. The main focus of 
the farm was to give city children a chance to experience what rural life was like and to 
see a working farm hands on. (Monday Mail Morning, July 13, 1970) The writer has 
her own personal recollection of the farm where she received hands on training of how to 
groom the pig that they called "Ma Pig." The Children's Farm offered day camps where 
children could work the farm. The writer goes on to say, "The experience of working a 
farm opened my eyes to how much is involved on a day to day basis with feeding and 
caring for the animals." 

In order to maintain this rural type atmosphere, motor vehicles were not permitted on 
the farm. There was a parking lot established for this purpose, and one had to go by foot 
and cross a covered bridge to reach the entrance of the farm. The Park District received 
donations to help prepare them for the Children's Farm. Some of the donations included: 
A hen-house, incubator and hatchery from Mallquist Butter and Egg; A covered bridge 
from Amerock; A $6,000 team of Clydesdale horses from American National Bank and 
many other wonderful gifts ranging from animals to cash. The Children's Farm was 
quite the attraction for some years. In the first year alone the farm had 40,000 visitors. It 
reached 45,000 in 1975 and '76. (The Rockford Register Star, Sept. 19, 1986) 

The Children's Farm gradually started to show signs of losing revenue starting in the 
late 1970s. The Park District began to frown upon the Children's Farm. It wasn't 
breaking even financially. A group of citizens was formed to come up with new ideas 
and attractions to draw attention to the farm. They needed more repeat visits. Instead, the 
Park District chose to double the admission fee. In June 1979 Parks Director Webbs 
Norman protested that the farm shouldn't be required to make money. "It represents one 
of the community's real treasures... Certain things were never intended to make money. 
The Children's Farm falls into that category," Norman said. (The Rockford Register Star, 
January 29, 1991) 



Kerwin - 3 

During the early 1980s, the farm began to diminish. In 1983 the number of animals 
decreased also and employees were let go. Jo Anne Baker, Deputy Director of Parks and 
Recreation said decisions were made to cut the attractions of the farm and focus the 
attention to the newly created Trailside Center. The Park District chose to move the 
pony and wagon rides across Kent Creek to Trailside, merging the Children's Farm and 
Trailside together. These were going to be their money-making activities. Slowly the 
focus was taken almost completely off of the Children's Farm. "The Children's Farm 
never really closed. We just moved the best part of it, the part people like the best, across 
the bridge." Baker said. (The Rockford Register Star, January 29, 1991) 

In spring of 1986 James E. Lockwood stepped into the picture. Lockwood, a retired 
businessman and Rockford native, was everything from a deep-sea adventurer to an 
archaeologist who excavated near King Tut's tomb. He was looking to invest money into 
a park that he could feel confident about. The park he originally had his eye on was 
Sportscore, an up and coming sport and recreation park. He was quickly talked out of 
this park and assured that the Children's Farm was the place to set up a trust for $75,000. 
The Park District unveiled plans to create a $1 .5 million family fun complex, 
incorporating a children's farm, amusement rides and train, hiking trails, all in a 
combined park of 1 ,200 acres incorporating Searles and Anna Page parks into the plan. 
Lockwood had spent close to $500,000 on a park in Racine, WI. This was a park that 
Lockwood had become very proud of and wanted the same for Rockford. 

To honor Lockwood' s generous donation, the name of the park had officially changed 
to Lockwood Park. Lockwood played a hands-on role in selecting items for the new 
park. He purchased two llamas and personally handpicked the peacocks, goats and 
potbellied pigs for the farm. A wishing well was installed with a ticker on for 
all children to enjoy on birthdays, with a sign that read, "Write a note and drop it in here 



Kerwin - 4 

and the animals will say Happy Birthday to You." "I spent $150.00 on it. It was the only 
thing I put in the park without the Park Districts permission," says Lockwood proudly. 
(Phone interview with James E. Lockwood, April 17 2001)He felt by investing 
financially and physically into the Children's Farm, he was investing in the community a 
place for children to go and grow and a place that would keep kids off of the streets. 

The new and improved Children's Farm was scheduled to re-open again in August of 
1987. The progress of the park was slow and Lockwood became increasingly frustrated 
with the lack of interest the Park District had in getting the farm re-opened. The plan 
continued to be put on hold and in December, 1990 the Park District put the grand 
scheme on indefinite hold. While Lockwood was living in Florida he was informed via 
phone of the status on the park and that things weren't going in his favor. During one 
phone call Lockwood received, he was informed that the llamas he had purchased for the 
park weren't being cared for properly and were becoming more of a maintenance issue 
than anything. The Park District was planning to sell them. This infuriated Lockwood. 
He wrote a letter of release of the llamas and to have them be donated to the Racine park. 
This was done without the consent of the Park District and only created more tension 
between both Lockwood and the Park District. Another incident Lockwood 
recalls was the $45,000 worth of playground equipment that he had installed was 
removed without his knowing. He thought that if he could find out where the equipment 
had gone, he could redirect it to the Recine Park. The answer he received was that it was 
thrown out. 

The park never did get the o.k. to proceed with the $1 .5 million project, and the dream 
remains dormant to this day. The money still sits in a local financial institution and the 
stipulation with the park is that the Park District will lose the grant if the park closes for 
more that two years or the Children's Park closes for good. The dissapointment in 



Kerwin - 5 

Lockwood's heart still runs deep. He feels that the children and the locals have all been 
betrayed. The last words Lockwood had for this writer were, "I wish they'd take my 
name off the darn thing." 

Lockwood Park still runs the Trailside Equestrian Center. The cost, however, has gone 
up since the early '70s. There is still no charge for the petting corral, which houses 
friendly pigs, sheep, goats and other small farm animals. This corral is open from noon - 
5pm. Saturdays and Sundays. The Trail rides are for children ages eight years to adult. 
There are still trail rides through scenic Lockwood and Page Parks. The fees are 
$8 for youth and $10 for adults. Garden Plots are available for rent at the park and there 
is an observatory that offers free public viewing sessions at dusk every second and fourth 
Saturday, weather permitting. 

The Children's Farm gave many children unique experiences while growing 
up. Unfortunately, it is no longer in operation. However, it is still accessible. The park is 
still very much a part of Rockford. Lockwood Park and Trailside Equestrian Center are 
still being utilized. If one ventures to the park he will see children feeding the ducks in 
Kent Creek, horses being mounted for trail rides, children crossing the bridge to reach the 
playground or running towards "Millie" the enormous dairy cow that overlooks the 
countryside. One is still able to cross the covered bridge and walk up to the old 
farmhouse and red barn. If you choose to do this, make sure you take the time to turn 
around and take notice of the grassy hillside that overlooks the small quarry with the 
breathtaking view that is as picturesque as a German Valley 



.. 



Works Cited 

By: Errika Kerwin 



Barrie, Vance - phone interview. 19 Feb. 2001. 

"Buy Lathrop Land for Park" Morning Star . 4 Dec. 1969. 

"Children's Farm Open Saturday. Monday Mail Morning . Page 2. 13 July 
1970. 

"Children's Farm/Trailside Merged". Buyers Guide . 1 Oct. 1986. 

Carlson, Leona. "The Adventures of Indiana James". Rockford Register 

Star . Page 4D. 01 Oct. 1989. 
Kerwin, Errika. Personal Recollection. 1979. 
Kerwin, Errika. Photographs. 2001. 
Lockwood, James E. Telephone Interview. 17 April 2001. 
Peterson, Eileen. "Children's farm might become major complex for 

recreation". The Register Star . Page 5 A. 19 Sept. 1986. 
RockfordParks.org/lockwood.htm.Online Database.AOL.http://www. 
Sweeney, Chuck. "The Curious Saga of Lockwood Park". Rockford Register 

Star. 29 Jan. 1991. 




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HISTORY OF THE ROCKFORD METROCENTRE 



by 

Gary McGhee 

Rock Valley College 

Spring Semester 2001 



McGhee 1 
HISTORY OF THE METROCENTRE 

As early as 1918, there had been proposals for a civic center in Rockford (Pamphlet on 
MetroCentre History). Plans for an "Auditorium" were suggested in 1924, and again in 1947, but 
there was never any follow through to see if it actually got past the "talking phase" (Pamphlet of 
MetroCentre History). Finally, in 1965, State Representative "Zeke" Giorgi from Rockford, 
introduced a bill in the State Legislature which would permit Rockford to build an exhibition hall 
for cultural, trade, industrial and athletic exhibits (Pamphlet on MetroCentre History). 

The actual development of the MetroCentre in Rockford began on June 21,1 966, when 
Mayor Benjamin Schleicher appointed a Citizen Committee of 26 people to investigate the 
feasibility of constructing a Memorial Auditorium ( Rockford Morning Star . June 21, 1966). After 
the committee did their preliminary investigations, they decided they needed a more thorough 
study done then they were capable of. They then hired the accounting firm of Peat, Marwick, and 
Michell, & Co. of Chicago to conduct a market need assessment and preliminary financial 
feasibility analysis. They interviewed hundreds of businessmen, state lawmakers, bankers, and 
everyday people to reach their conclusions ( Rockford Register Star . September 9, 1 977). 

In their study, Peat, Marwick, Michell, & Co., reported on what typed of programs people 
in the Rockford area wanted to see at a Memorial Auditorium, what the operating characteristics 
were for a successful civic center, and what the potential areas of impace were for the 
community. The types of programs that the community wanted to have were concerts, family 
shows, public assemblages, consumer exhibitions, and children's shows. Operating 
characteristics included having a limited full-time staff and supplement the staff at events with 



McGhee 2 
contracted labor. All of this was to be managed by well-paid aggressive managers. The main 
areas of impact by the MetroCentre wold be construction jobs over a 24 month period, increased 
restaurant business in the downtown area, increased occupancy at local hotesl/motes, and 
additional real estate taxes from the Centre ( Rockford Morning Star Archives, 1977). 

Their conclusions further set the stage for the MetroCentre. In their report, they 
concluded that: 

• A strong desire existed in the community to have a large multi-purpose civic 
facility. 

• The population appeared large enough to support a facility. 

• At full operation, the Centre could generate a net operating deficit of $2 1 8,000 
annually. 

• Funding of depreciation and additional revenues must be provided to cover 
operating expenses for the first three years ( Morning Star Archive, January 1977) 

Then, in 1 978, to make sure the city knew exactly what it was getting into, the Rockford 
City Council appointed a committee to tour three cities that had convention centers in the 
northeastern United States: Hartford, Connecticut; Springfield, Massachusetts; and Providence, 
Rhode Island ( Rockford Register Star . February 2, 1978). 

The committee reported back to the City Council with their findings on what was needed 
to have a successful civic center/sports arena: 

• There needed to be a strong city leadership. 

• The civic centers that were visited by the committee showed that sporting events 
and rock concerts brought the biggest profits. 









■^ 



• 



McGhee 3 
Exhibition space had to be included in the design. 
A downtown renewal effort should be made in conjunction with a center. 
Private investors needed to be courted for success. 
• The civic centers turned only a marginal profit ( Rockford Register Star , February 

5, 1978). 
While most of Rockford thought that a civic center was just what Rockford needed, there 
were several obstacles that needed to be overcome. In 1978, the City Council voted to impose a 
1% hotel-motel/restaurant-lounge and package liquor tax to support the operation of a civic 
center. The city projected that the tax would generate $750,000 a year ( Rockford Morning Star . 
April 4, 1978). This, of course, caused an uproar with the owners of these establishments. Then, 
a week later, the council voted to add private club sales to the 1 % sales tax ( Rockford Morning 
Star, April, 11,1978) 

The owners of the clubs, hotels, motels, restaurants, and liquor stores were not the only 
people who were less than pleased about building a civic center. In February of 1978, Alderman 
Ronald White objected to the perceived cost of the civic center of $30 million. His argument 
was that the price too steep for the city of Rockford to be able to afford. He considered a civic 
center a luxury that Rockford could live without ( Rockford Morning Star . February 15, 1978). 

Even before these events were unfolding in Rockford, thing were moving at the State 
level. In November of 1975, the State Supreme Court ruled that Bill 985, passed by the 
Legislature in October 1969, also know as the Metropolitan Civic Center Support Act", was 
unconstitutional. The bill would have given Rockford $15 million to build a civic center 
(Pamphlet on Metro Centre History). 



McGhee 4 

Funds were not the only stumbling block in the quest to build a civic center. Location 
was also a key argument. In 1965, there was a proposal to build a civic center at the Rockford 
Airport ( Rockford Morning Star , October 13, 1965). Then, in 1967, two downtown sites were 
proposed: one at the site of the old Post Office Building on south Main, and the other on the east 
side of the Rock River (Pamphlet on MetroCentre History). 

Finally, in January of 1 978, the State Legislature approved a proposal to sell bonds for 
construction of a civic center between March 15 and April 1 of 1978. At the same time, the site 
of the MetroCentre was finalized. "MetroCentre will be a block bounded by Church, Elm, 
Chestnut, and Main" ( Rockford Morning Star . January 6, 1978). This site was decided on since 
the city owned most of the property there in the form of parking lots, so there was little to no 
dispute by land or store owners ( Rockford Morning Star . January 6, 1978). 

Now the search began to find the best architects to draw up plans for the building. Final 
approval was given to Larson and Darby/Orput Associates, Inc. ( Rockford Morning Star . April 4, 
1978). 

The construction firm of Sjostrom and Sons, Inc. was chosen to begin construction on 
February 2, 1 979. Governor James Thompson and Mayor McGaw broke ground with first shovel 
of dirt on this date ( Rockford Morning Star . February 2, 1979). 

The construction of the MetroCentre continued for two years and was completed by 
January 25, 1981, when the grand opening was celebrated with an Open House ( Register Star . 
February 2, 1979). In this writer's research of this essay, no mention was made of any problems 
the construction company had with completing the MetroCentre in the time frame of two years. 

On January 31,1981, a Gala Opening Concert took place featuring Dionne Warwick 















fe. 









McGhee 5 
performing to a sold out crowd. To commemorate the occasion, local artist, Tom Heflin, 
designed a painting that was made into a lithograph as a souvenir for all who attended that first 
concert ( Register Star , January 22, 1981). Cheap Trick performed the second concert in the 
newly opened Centre on February 5, 1981 ( Register Star . February 5, 19810, followed by the 
Rolling Stones on October 2, 1981 ( Register Star , February 2, 1981). 

Since those first concerts, the MetroCentre has continued to supply this community with a 
needed facility for many occasions. In an interview with Carol and Ed Hughes on April 1 7, 
2001, this writer asked, "What has been your experience in the MetroCentre?" 

Ed answered, "Carol and I have been there several times, usually for the Senior Health 
Fair that they hold every year or so. The building is so well laid out that you have plenty of space 
to see all the exhibits and never feel as though you were crowded into holding pens like cattle." 

Carol agreed with her husband, "Oh, yes, things are always run so smoothly there and 
everyone is so helpful. When we've been to concerts there, the acoustics make it enjoyable. We 
never have any trouble hearing what is going on" (Interview with Carol and Ed Hughes, April 1 7, 
2001). 

In an interview with Jerry Melcher on April 24, 200 1 , he expressed his delight with 
having semiprofessional sports in Rockford. 

"Man, have you ever been to an Ice Hogs or Lightning game? Man, that place really 
rocks with all the fans yelling for the home teams. They have really made the MetroCentre on 
par with the United Center in Chicago. I've been there a lot of times, but the MetroCentre is so 
much better organized" (Interview with Jerry Melcher, April 24, 2001) 

"The music groups that have played at the MetroCentre have been out of this world!" was 



McGhee 6 
how Nancy Betancourt phrased it in her interview with the writer on April 12, 2001 . 

"I have heard unforgettable performances there by the Righteous Brothers and the Moody 
Blues. The fact that I have not had to leave town for quality entertainment is a real plus" 
(Interview with Nancy Betancourt, April 12, 2001). 

These positive reviews were offset by one negative opinion expressed by Jennifer Peters 
in her interview on April 24, 2001 . 

"The MetroCentre sucks! The management treats the audiences like dirt and the 
entertainment is all right if you're old! They never have any of the new groups here and if they 
do get a fairly well-known, recent group, there are never enough tickets and tickets always go on 
sale at weird times" (Interview with Jennifer Peters, April 24, 2001)! 

No one can deny the effects that the MetroCentre has had on this community. From "old 
time rock and roll", to craft shows, to consumer exhibitions, one would be hard pressed to find 
someone in the Rockford area who has not been to the MetroCentre and has an opinion about it. 
This writer has never been disappointed by anything attended at the Centre. The people of 
Rockford should give a resounding "Thank you!" to Charles Boettcher for that post card and 
question in 1966: 

"Why can't Rockford have something like this?" 



McGhee 7 
TIME LINE OF METROCENTRE HISTORY 

1918 Rockford City Plan Commission unveils a proposal for a civic complex. 

1947 City Planner Lloyd T. Keefe discusses the Civic Center in his master plan for downtown 
Rockford. 

1965 Legislation introduced in the Illinois House of Representatives which would permis 
Rockford to create an exhibition council with powers to build an exhibition hall for 
cultural, trade, industrial and athletic exhibits. Introduced by Rep. E.J. (Zeke) Giorgi. 

1966 Mayor Benjamin T. Schleicher appoints a 26 member Citizen Committee to advise him 
on downtown's number one priority, a Memorial Auditorium. 

Rockford' s Municipal Auditorium Committee delivers their report to the Mayor for a 
Civic Center Complex costing between $8 to $10 million. 

1967 Mayor Schleicher appoints a Committee to oversee construction and operation of a 
Memorial auditorium. 

Governor Otto Kerner signs Civic Center Bill. 

Rockford Exhibition Hall Council names Real Estate Research Corporation of Chicago to 
prepare a feasibility study. The completed study states that Rockford has an immediate 
need for a Civic Center and that the best location would be on the east bank of the Rock 
River. 

City Council approves transfer of $454,000 from War Memorial fund to the Rockford 
Exhibition Council to finance a preliminary design and for referendum costs. 

Rockford Exhibition Council announces February 20, 1968 as the referendum date for the 
bonds for construction of a War Memorial Civic Center. 

1 968 Rockford voters, by 3-1 margin, defeat the bond issue. 

1969 The State of Illinois passes Senate Bill 985, known as the "Metropolitan Civic Center 
Act". 

The Rockford Metropolitan Exposition, Auditorium and Office Building Authority is 
formed with nine members, county wide. 



McGhee 8 

1970 Governor Richard Ogilvie signs a bill providing up to $7.5 million in matching funds 
following a successful referendum to supply local matching taxing support. 

1 974 Governor Daniel Walker approves $ 1 5 million for Civic Center construction. 

1975 The Illinois Supreme Court ruled $15 for Civic Center funding is unconstitutional. 

1 977 Peat, Marwick Mitchell chosen to compile feasibility study for Rockford Civic Center. 

1 978 State of Illinois approves a $ 1 5.3 million in State Support Revenue Bonds for the 
construction of the Rockford MetroCentre. 

Rockford City council passes an ordinance calling for a 1% hotel-motel, food and 
beverage and alcoholic liquors tax. 

John Nuveen & Co. Inc., with a bid of 6.9 percent interest, purchases the $15.3 million 
State Support Revenue Bonds for the Construction of the MetroCentre (Pamphlet on 
MetroCentre History). 



McGhee 9 



Time Line of World Events From 1962-1981 

1 96 1 President Kennedy bans all trade with Cuba except for food and drugs 

1 965 First U.S. combat forces arrive in Vietnam 

Martin Luther King, Jr. leads march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama 

1 966 TV program Star Trek premieres 

Metropolitan Opera House opens in Lincoln Center, New York City 

1 967 Apollo I fire kills Grissom, White, and Chaffee 

Thurgood Marshall first Black Justice on U.S. Supreme Court 

1 968 Jacqueline Kennedy marries Aristotle Onassis 

1 969 First human eye transplant 

Woodstock festival begins in New York State 

1 970 Four students killed at Kent State in Ohio 

President Nixon signs 26 th Amendment lowering the voting age to 1 8 

1 973 Pioneer 1 reaches Jupiter 

Two Skylab 3 astronauts do space walk for seven hours 

Vietnam Peace Treaty signed in Paris 

Gerald Ford sworn in as first unelected Vice President 

Supreme Court rules in Roe vs. Wade to allow abortion in the first six months 

1 974 Watergate trial begins 

1976 First outbreak of "Legionnaires" Disease kills 29 in Philadelphia 



McGhee 10 

1 977 New York City paralyzed by 25-hour blackout 
34 billion year old one-celled fossil discovered-earliest life form 

1 978 Velcro put on market 
Guttenberg Bible sells for $2 million in New York City 

1980 John Lennon killed 

1 98 1 IBM introduces the first personal computer 
(Information from a 2001 calendar) 






McGhee 1 1 

WORKS CITED 
"Approved by the State". Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library 

Reference Section. January 6, 1978. 
"Architects given Go-Ahead". Rockford Morning Star . Rocckfordiana Files, Rockford Public 

Library Reference Section. April 7, 1978. 
Betancourt, Nancy. Personal Interview. McDonald's on Charles Street, Rockford, II. 12 April 

2001. 
"Cannot use city property taxes". Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public 

Library Reference Section. September 7, 1977. 
"Council unanimously votes". Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public 

Library Reference Section. August 28, 1977. 
"Committee Returns from Northeast". Rockford Register Republic . Rockfordiana Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. February 2, 1978. 
Cunningham, Pat. Rockford. Big Town. Little City . Rockford, Illinois: Rockford Newspapers, 

Inc., 2000. 
"Final Approval Given to MetroCentre Design". Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. December 8, 1978. 
"Governor Otto Kerner Signs a Bill". Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, Rockford 

Public Library Reference Section. June 16, 1975. 
"Ground Broken for MetroCentre". Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana Files, Rockford 

Public Library Reference Section. February 7, 1979. 



McGhee 12 
Hughes, Carol and Ed. Personal Interview. Fazzoli's at Colonial Village, Rockford, II. 17 April 

2001. 
Lundin, Jon. Rockford: An Illustrated History . Chatsworth, CA: Windsor Publications, 1989. 
"Mayor Benjamin Schleicher Appoints Committee". Rockford Register Republic . Rockfordiana 

Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. June 21, 1966. 
Melcher, Jerry. Personal Interview. SPX in Rockford, II. 24 April 2001. 
"MetroCentre Supplement". Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public 

Library Reference Section. January 29, 1982. 
"MetroCenter Tax Generates $1.1 Million". Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. October 13, 1979. 
"One Percent Tax on Restaurants". Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, Rockford 

Public Library Reference Section. January 24, 1975. 
"Open House for MetroCentre". Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public 

Library Reference Section. January 25, 1981. 
Pamphlet on MetroCentre History. 
"Peat, Marwick, Michell & Co. Hired for Feasibility Study". Rockford Morning Star . 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. September 9, 1972. 
Peters, Jennifer. Person Interview. SPX in Rockford, II. 24 April 2001. 
"Predictions from Alderman Ronald White". Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. February 15, 1978. 
"Rockford City Council Adds Private Club Sales". Rockford Register Republic . Rockfordiana 

Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. April 1 1, 1978. 



McGhee 13 
"Rockford City Council Endorses 1% Tax". Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. April 4, 1978. 
"Rockford Metro Authority Asks Winnebago County Board for 1% Tax". Rockford Morning 

Star . Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. February 4, 1978. 
"Rockford Metropolitan Exposition, Auditorium, and Office Building Authority". Rockford 

Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. No Date. 
"The Metro was first proposed to be built at the Rockford Airport". Rockford Morning Star . 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. October 13, 1965. 
"Two Downtown Sites Proposed for the Center". Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. September 30, 1967. 
"Tom Heflin Paints Picture for Souvenir Lithograph". Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana 

Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. January 22, 1981. 
"What Committee Learned". Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public 

Library Reference Section. February 5, 1978. 






k. 




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Logan said Wednesday's negotiations 
with the slate were needed to lie ii|> 
loose ends and to answer the state's 
questions about a reserve account de- 
signed to handle the center's expected 
operating deficit. 

The city has proposed a 1 percent 
hotel-motel/restaurant-lounge tax to 
raise about $550,000 for the reserve 
account. The tax proposal is expected to 
come before the Rockford City Council 
later this month. 

City officials have said privately, 
however, the council might enact a tax 
rats higher than 1 percent, provided the 
additional tax funds could be used for- 
other downtown redevelopment 
projects. 

Logan said the one major problem the 
state saw in the city's application was 
how funds would flow from the two 
taxes to the authority and whether the 
tax would be constitutional 

He added that local officials feel there 
is little question the taxes are constitu- 



te i l however; Peoria has been collec- 
ting simihar taxes for a year without 
challenge. 

A third Peoria tax — on entertain- 
ment — is being challenged by a local 
theater chain, Logan said, with the tax 
being held in escrow until litigation is 
resolved. An entertainment tax has not 
been proposed here. 

Logan said Peoria's 3 percent hotel- 
motel tax and a 2Dexc£iit_rjisiajirant- 
lounge tax hav«^collectcd $1 
over the yearQ^ ,_ fc 

He said RocTtTmd assuitTf tlr e"state 
the city would not use property taxes for 
the center even if there are problems 
with the hotel-motel/restaurant-lounge 
tax package. 

Rockford "s Metro Centre is to be a 
213,000-square-foot arena/coliseum with 
a seating capacity of 10,078 plus an 
ancillary parking site, pedestrian walk- 
ways, an arts and sciences center in the 





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Right now, it's little more than a hole in the ground, but 
Rockford's Metro Centre is taking shape slowly but 
surely. Foundation work for the arena is well under way 
and steel erection is to begin late this month. Metro 
Centre authority officials hope to get the arena 
enclosed by Dec. 1 so construction can continue, 
during the winter. The center is being constructed at an 
angle across its downtown- site, a block bounded by 
Church, Chestnut, South Main and Elm streets. The 
structure is scheduled to open in October 1980. 




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Arena footb 





Sloppy play 
marks new sport • 
in final preview 

By Charlie Rayman 

The Register Star 

Arena football's return to Rockford's Me- 
troCentre Friday night proved one thing: 
The newest league in the United States is 
not ready for prime time yet. 

And its first four-team, 13-game preview 
season is only a week away. 

The first arena football game will be a 
week from tonight in Pittsburgh between 
the home-team Gladiators and the Wash- 
ington, D.C., Commandos. The second 
game will be a week from today at 8 p.m. at 
the Rosemont Horizon between the Chica- 
go Bruisers and the Denver Dynamite. 
That also will be the first of five games to 
be televised by ESPN. 

All four teams played one half of get-the- 
bugs-out indoor football here Friday night 
on a slightly padded artificial surface half 
the size of a standard 100-yard football 
field. /?—&& C ~/3 -*~Z *ls 

For the record, Pittsburgh, with former 
West High and NIU running back Ricky 
Mitchell going both ways, defeated Chicago 
20-9 in the first and third 15-minute quar- 
ters. The were sparked by first-quarter 
touchdown passes from Mike Hohensee and 
Brendan Folmar. Washington defeated 
Denver 18-14 in the second and fourth 
quarters. 

The 1,150 fans who came in out of the 
warm to see what arena football is all about 
seemed to enjoy what they saw and made 
noises like a typical football crowd. But 
some of them were a bit confused. 

Obviously, there's a lot of work to be 
done on the new sports product, ifrcluding 
some rule changes, a possible increase in 
officials from three to four, and finalizing of 
the team rosters. 1 / 

No one connected with the new league is 
concerned at this point, and that includes 
the 64 players who will make up the four 
16-man rosters. They're just happy to be 
playing football again. Even for the mini- 
mum wage of $3,000, or $500 a game. 

Arena football president Jim Foster of 
Northbrook was disappointed in the small 
crowd. But he was not disappointed in the 
sloppy play on the field because he didn't 
expect a smooth, finished product Friday 
night "for what was basically our first 
scrimmage and the first game for most of 
the (77) players." 

The first time Foster brought arena foot- 



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The Chicago Bruisers battle the Pittsburgh Gladiators during a four-team arena 
football exhibition at the MetroCentre Friday. /£ ~ffiu-z. C -/■$ -if? /Q 



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Independence and Negativism 




Opening night: Doug Logan, the first general manager of the Metro Centre, sports formal attire just hours before the 
debut of Rockford's downtown arena on Jan. 31, 1981. Logan and Ed McCullough, another talented young aide to 
Mayor Robert McGaw, navigated tricky political waters to get the facility built. 



community development bureaucracy that 
outgrew City Hall and expanded into downtown 
satellite offices. 

The energy and aggressiveness of the McGaw 
administration did nothing, however, to 
diminish the hopes of Republicans that they 
could recapture the mayor's office in 1977. The 
theory was that the previous election had been 
a fluke and that Rockford voters would revert 
to Republican form. 

Prospects were so rosy, in fact, that a fight 
ensued between City Clerk Ray Olson and 1st 
Ward Aid. Art Nielsen for the GOP nomina- 
tion. The outcome of that race was the stuff of 



minor legend. 



Weeks before the February primary, the 
betting at Erwin's restaurant, the political 
hangout across the street from City Hall, was 
that Olson would defeat Nielsen in a walk. 

After all, as city clerk, Olson alreadv had won 



a citywide election, while Nielsen never had run 
beyond the 1st Ward. And Olson was a favorite 
among retirees in the high-rises, where he often 
entertained residents with his splendid singing. 

Olson's handlers were so confident of victory 
in the primary that they husbanded their finan- 
cial resources for the general-election campaign 
against McGaw. Nielsen's people, on the other 
hand, came up with a TV spot of the candidate 
standing on the bank of the Rock River talking 
about the challenges facing the city. 

There was nothing great about the advertise- 
ment, but the scheduling of it was a stroke of 
great political luck. It played heavily on Channel 
13 during the airing of "Roots," a miniseries on 
the plight of African-Americans, which was an 
unprecedented blockbuster in the ratings. 

In one week. Art Nielsen became a familiar 
face to everybody in Rockford. and he handily 
defeated Olson in the primary election. Still, the 



11 



ROCKFORD 




One of the most conspicuous landmarks in the 
Rockford downtown is tfu- 10,000-seat Metro- 
Centre (1981), the site oj concerts, trade shows, 
exhibitions, and sportingevents. Courtesy, Larson 
& Darby, Inc. 



144 



Turn of the Century Rockford: 
The Midway Village and Museum Center 



Lisa Grindle 

Spring Semester 2001 

Rock Valley College 

English Composition 1 



Grindle 1 



Turn of the Century Rockford 

Thirty-five years ago no one would have ever imagined there would be a place to 
recreate early Rockford. Midway Village and Museum Center is based upon one man's 
dream. Carl Severin dreamed about a place to store the model of his childhood farm, in 
Sweden, that he built in the winter of 1 963 and 1 964. Together Carl and his wife, Tekla, 
built the small model. In 1966 he started to put his dream into motion. He also built 
displays and bought antiques in hopes of having a museum to show off the items. Since 
the beginning, the Midway Village & Museum Center has gone through many changes, in 
name, in development, and in reputation. 

The main purpose of the museum is to show the "roots' of Rockford, so that 
future generations will know where they came from. It is also a place to show off what 
was manufactured in Rockford and the different types of lifestyles that were formed in 
the area. The village's main purpose is to show the Rockford area as it was in the early 
1900s. 

When Carl decided to make his dream become a reality, he had the perfect 
location for the museum. The museum would find its home on the far east side of 
Rockford. Carl, Tekla, and a partner bought thirteen acres of land on Guilford Road. 
Carl and Tekla donated their half of land "for the collection, preservation, and 
interpretation of the history of Rockford"(Ludin 1 56). The present location is at 6799 
Guilford Road. It is located on the south side of the road, one block west of Perryville 
Road. 

On the original 6.5 acres of land were cornfields, prairie grass, and woodlands. 
Today, on the 154, acres there are still some of the original prairie grass and woodlands. 
In addition to the original land there is a small lake (Lake Severin), the museum, a doll 



Grindle 2 

house, village, and a recreational path. Next to the land are residential homes and a 
church. 

Originally, Midway Village and Museum Center was called the Rockford 
Museum and Pioneer Village. A contest was held to rename Pioneer Village. The 
contest had over 430 entries and a panel of seven people choose the name Midway 
Village. Midway Village was selected because it is located midway between the 
Mississippi River and Chicago, Illinois. The reason why the Midway Village was placed 
before Museum Center in the name is because the panel feared the village would be more 
appealing than the actual museum. A former director, Tara Busier, of the Midway 
Village and Museum Center thought that the museum was an historical goldmine. She 
also predicted the museum to be the next Williamsburg, Virginia (Nielsen). 

Carl Severin's dream became more of a reality when he discovered, as the 
director, that the Erlander home on S. Third St. was too small. The Erlander home is 
where Swedish heritage is stored. Items stored include: "furniture, trunks, carvings, 
clothing, and tools" (Rockford Illinois Museums). Carl did not like that the items in the 
Erlander Home were being stored in closets. He wanted a more modern place that would 
be one story tall, so everyone could see the heritage of Rockford. More fire safety 
precautions had to be considered in order to preserve the artifacts and displays at the new 
location. 

In the early 1970s, Carl and a man named Bengt Granberg decided to work on 
getting donations for the opening of the museum. The Rockford Park District played a 
major role in the success of the museum. They were then hired to maintain the museum 
grounds. The Park District's increased involvement led them to believe that the museum 
needed more than just "Swedish" items. There were other organizations that desired to 
showcase their belongings. In 1971, the Harlem and Rockford Historical Societies joined 
forces to start the museum. The Swedish, Rockford, and Harlem Historical Societies 



Grindle 3 

formed the Rockford Museum Association. The Harlem Historical Society also needed a 

place to store their Town Hall. 

An article in the Rockford Magazine explains about the historical societies 

joining the forces: 

Gradually, a collective Rockford memory began to rise. The three 
factions realized they needed each other to make the museum work 
and they pulled together. "The Rockford society had the prestige. 
They were from the north end and all. The Harlem people, being 
descended from farmers, really knew how to work. And the 
Swedes who couldn't even speak the King's English rights, had the 
money" says Vie Carlson. 
When the museum first opened, it was operated on a lot of volunteers and 

donations. All of the volunteers had the same goal, to show off the roots of the city. 

Members of the museum association were guides on the opening day. Carl Severin was, 

along with the other members of the association, involved with the opening day 

festivities. 

Viola Grindle, a volunteer from the beginning of the museum, said her first job at 

being the "Membership Chairman" was to get more members to join. The reason why 

Viola Grindle, Daughter of Carl Severin, decided to become a volunteer was because it 

was a family affair, plus she liked watching the action. Another volunteer, Cynthia 

Olson, started to volunteer because she had to drive her daughter to the museum, because 

they asked her daughter to become a junior volunteer. 

The construction for the museum was planned to start in July of 1972. In October 

the groundbreaking ceremony was held, with Gov. Richard Ogilvie and US Rep. John B. 

Anderson. The first part of the museum, History Gallery, was dedicated in June of 1974. 

The first piece of the Pioneer Village that was donated was the Town Hall. 



Grindle 4 

Carl and Bengt raised close to $65,000 for the museum. The costs for the museum 
were met by donations received prior to the construction of the museum. The first part of 
the museum would cost $120,000. 

The architect that the museum association contracted for the museum was Ragnar 
Benson. He was an internationally known architect from Chicago, Illinois. The museum 
building that he constructed was a 10,000-square foot one-story building ($120,000). 
The engineer of the museum was Arnold Lundgren and Associates. The landscaping was 
done by John L. Cook and Associates (Robertson). 

The Midway Village and Museum Center offer many activities for the public. 
They offer facilities to rent for any occasions: family gatherings, weddings, baptisms, 
bridal showers, baby showers, and workshops. For children they offer to hold different 
theme parties: "Victorian Tea Party, I Feel Pretty, Wild West, Down on the Farm, and 
Toy Sawyer/Becky Thatcher'" (Museum Map). During the summer they offer kids camps 
ages 6-12: "Camp Victoria, Playing Around the World, Camp Harvest, Camp 
Yippee-I-O" (Kids Kamps). 

Midway Village and Museum Center offer events for people to see the country's 
history be revisited. In June, the Civil War Days are re-enacted to see the battles between 
the Confederate and the Union forces. In August, the Wild West Days are back, and the 
audience will be able to experience life in the old west. In September, W.W.II will be 
re-enacted with tanks, jeeps, with artillery and tank firings. In October, the public can 
participate in a Scarecrow Festival and an All Hallow's Eve celebration for the children 
to go trick-or-treating. In December, people can go see the spirit of a holiday season, 
Victorian style. 

In 1974, the Museum Center's History Gallery was opened. The History Gallery 
originally housed different artifacts and documents of Rockford. It also held exhibits on 
the Rockford Peaches, Swedish choirs, and on the heritage of Rockford. It now holds 
different administration offices. 



Grindle 5 

The architect for the Industrial Gallery was Raymond S. Knowland. In 1975, 
Donald Raymond Johnson was the engineer for the Industrial Gallery (Robertson). The 
estimated cost for this wing was $200,000. In 1976, the Industrial Gallery opened. In the 
Industrial Gallery it was planned to house nineteen displays of early Rockford industrial 
companies. Some of the early industries with displays were: Anderson Brothers; 
Atwood Vacuums; Joseph Behr; Elco Industries; Estwing; Greenlee; and Rockford 
Products. It planned to house some equipment and products from early Rockford which 
included: Barnes Drill; Greenlee Brothers; and Sundstrand, an adding machine; a 
vacuum cleaner from Atwood Vacuum Machine; and a glue machine from Testor. 

In 1986, the Exhibition Hall added 7,000 feet to the museum. The main purpose 
of this wing was to link the History Gallery to the Industrial Gallery. In adding more 
space for studios for the uses of restoring artifacts and putting together incoming 
exhibits. It presently is the home of what the original History Gallery was home to. 

In 1988, the Aviation Gallery was opened up. The Aviation Gallery houses the 
Greater Rockford which is a Stinson-Detroiter aircraft from the 1920s. This airplane 
flew out of the Machesney airport which was located where the Machesney Park Mall 
presently stands. Harold Carlson played a role in the expansion of the aviation wing of 
the museum. He wanted to help out Mary Lyons restore her father's plane the Greater 
Rockford and also to have a place to store the Greater Rockford, which crashed in 
Greenland on a trip to Stockholm, Sweden. The Carlson Education Gallery which 
includes a classroom, a meeting room and a courtyard, this was named after Harold 
Carlson. 

The Doll House also opened in 1988. The Doll House is the home for Mrs. 
George W. Taylor's miniature doll houses from around the world. In the basement is the 
built-to-scale farm that Carl and his wife built. The majority of the homes have a tiny 
mouse hidden inside, so the observer can practice their hunting skills (for the mouse). 



Grindle 6 

The Midway Village opened in the mid 1 970s with only three buildings. In 1 972, 
the Town Hall was donated. In 1974, the Blacksmith Shop was built to show the typical 
blacksmith's shop of the 19th century. In 1975, the Midway Community Bank was 
moved to the Midway village from the original location which was named "Exchange 
Bank of Holcomb" (Midway Map). 

In 1977, the Old Stone School was moved from the Children's Farm at Lock wood 
Park to the Village. In 1979 there were two additions to the village: Midway Community 
Church, which was originally located on a farm in the Harrison Township; and the Law 
Office, which is a recreation of a typical law office. The cemetery that is next to the 
church, is a replica of how an early 19th century cemetery was perceived. 

In 1980, a Gazebo was built in the village to recreate a place for the street 
performers to entertain in the rural areas. In 1 982, four additions were added to the 
village which include: The Plumbing Shop, which is a full-scale reproduction; the 
Breckenridge House, which was a typical working class house (this house is part of an 
"Italianate House", Museum Map); Ralston House, which was moved to the village in 
1982, but was closed for restoration until 1987; and the Water Tower which was moved 
from the Rockford's Camp Rotary Boys' Camp. In 1984, a 3/4-scale of the Chamberlain 
Hotel was built, which was formally called the Montayne House. The Chamberlain Hotel 
was originally housed in Caledonia, Illinois. 

In 1988, the Carlson-Russ General Store and the Rockford Hospital joined the 
village. The general store is a full-scale replica of the first general store in Rockford 
built in 1836. The first Rockford Hospital was originally in the former home of Dr. 
Fitch, so the museum built a 3/4-scale of the original building. In 1989, the Fire Station 
(a 3/4-scale of Fire Station #6 in Rockford) and the J.L. Clark Hardware Store, which is a 
replica of the original, was built. Cynthia Olson stated that one day when she was 
working in the hardware store, J.L. Clark store, when she was telling the history behind 
the building and how it started, and that it is still a family owned business in Rockford 



Grindle 7 

today. "When a gentleman came up and handed me his drivers license with the name 
J.L. Clark. 1 quickly said 'Welcome to your hardware store.' He laughed and said he 
loved to do that to new faces." 

The most recently restored buildings that are open to the public opened in 1990. 
They are: the Police Station, Print Shop, and Aldeen Water Clock. The police station is a 
typical police station of the 19th century, and the second floor of the police station 
documents "the history of police service in Winnebago County" (Museum Map). The 
print shop is a replica of "the original Gazette Building on State Street in Rockford." 

In the village also includes: the Implement Building, Mowry-Brown House, 
Pepper House, and the Marsh House. The Implement Building is used for storage space 
for maintenance. The Pepper House and the Mowry-Brown House have the target date of 
opening in 2002. The Mowry-Brown House is going to be for exhibit space. The Pepper 
House is going to be used in demonstrations. The Museum is undetermined in what the 
Marsh House will be used for. 

Since the opening, the Midway Village and Museum Center has only become a 
better place through the growth. If Carl was still alive, his daughter, Vi Severin-Grindle, 
stated that "he would still be proud of what has evolved with the museum". The museum 
center and village offer a lot of information on many different topics. Every year they 
offer different types of exhibits for everyone to enjoy. The Midway Village and Museum 
Center is an excellent place to go to see the life of an ever growing city. 



Grindle 8 
Works Cited 

"'$120,000 Museum Societies Plan 3 Historical Here." Register Star . Rockfordian Files. 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. No Date. 
"Baker, Joe. "Museum Celebrates 19th Century." Register Star City . Rockfordian Files. 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. No Date. 
Barrie, Vance. "History of the Rockford Park District." Slide Presentation. Rockford 

Public Library, Rockford, IL. 23 Jan. 2001. 
Bruening, Jeff. Lecture. 30 January 2001. 
"A Century of Rockford History Saved Through 15 Years of Work." Register Star . 

Rockfordian Files. Rockford Public Library Reference Section. No Date. 
Cryer, Cathy. "Museum's Backers Will See Dream Become Reality." Register Star . 

Rockfordian Files. Rockford Public Library Reference Section. No Date. 
"Dream Come True-That's New Museum." Register Republic . Rockfordian Files. 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. No Date. 
"Dreams Reap Museum in Former Cornfield." Register Star . Rockfordian Files. 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. No Date. 
Grindle, Lisa. Personal Experience. 23 April 2001. 
Grindle, Viola. Personal Interview. 18 March 2001. 
Hassell, Bert R.J. Col. A Viking With Wings. Maverick Publications. 1987. 
Howe, Peggy. "Midway Village: Historic Buildings Give Visitors a Turn-of-the-Century 

Taste." Register Star . Rockfordian Files. Rockford Public Library Reference 

Section. No Date. 
"Landmarks in History of Center and Village." Register Star . Rockfordian Files. 

Rockford Public Library Reference Section. No Date. 
Lundin, Jon W. Rockford: An Illustrated History . Chatsworth, Ca., Windsor 

Publications, 1989. 



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MUSEU M*CENTeR J 



Tour Map and Guide 




6799 Guilford Road 
Rockford, IL 61107 

Phone:815.397-9112 

Fax: 815.397-9156 

Website: www.MidwayVillage.com 




1 OLD DOLLS' HOUSE MUSEUM Take a "world tour" and 

see a collection of dolls' houses and miniature homes representing 
countries around the world. The Old Doll's House was built in 
1988. 

2 ALDEEN WATER CLOCK (c. 1958) Water clocks date back 

to 1400 BC. Their method of operation remains relatively 
unchanged since their creation. Water fills a bucket at the end of a 
crossbar. The weight of the water causes the bar to drop, which 
moves a pendulum. This action moves a circular gear, which turns 
the hands of the clock. The clock, built by Gedor W. Aldeen, was 
donated to Midway Village in 1990. 

3 J. L. CLARK HARDWARE STORE (c. 1880) Durmg the 

late 19 th century, J.L. Clark invented the Collapsible Gem Flue 
Stop designed to fold flat for easy storage. The scale and cash 
register are from the original J.L. Clark Hardware Store. The 
building is a Va-scale reproduction built in 1989. 

4 PLUMBING SHOP (c.1900) Indoor plumbing, introduced in 

Rockford in 1875, created a need for utilitarian yet decorative 
plumbing supplies. Plumbing shops sold the latest conveniences 
including elaborate toilets, bath tubs, and decorative plumbing 
fixtures. The Plumbers Truck is a 1921 restored Ford. The 
plumbing shop is a full-scale reconstruction built in 1982. 

5 BLACKSMITH SHOP (c.1890) Blacksmith shops were a 
primary industry in many small, rural Illinois communities in the 
19 th century. Blacksmiths forged and sharpened plow blades and 
tools using the large grinding wheel in the back. Using the tire 
bench, the smith repaired wagon wheels and tires. This building, 
constructed in 1974, is a full-scale re-creation based on typical 
blacksmith shops of the 19 th century. 

6 MIDWAY COMMUNITY CHURCH (CI 883) Midway 

Church, originally named Bethel Community Church and located 
in Harrison Township, contains the original pews, pulpit, and 
platform. The cemetery is located next to the church as it was 
during the 19 th century. Midway Church was moved to Midway 
Village in 1979. Services are conducted in the church from the 
second Sunday of June through the last Sunday of August. 

7 ROCKFORD HOSPITAL (cl885) A waiting parlor, 
examination room, sick room, pharmacy and bedrooms are part of 
the Rockford Hospital. The first Rockford hospital was located in 
the former home of Dr. Fitch. The hospital, built in 1988, is a %- 
scale reproduction of the first Rockford hospital. 

8 MARSH HOUSE (c. 1840) This Greek Revival style house is 
currently under restoration and is not open to the public. 

9 RALSTON HOUSE (c. 1910) Fine parlor furnishings, china 

settings, and a library recreate the lifestyle of an upper-middle class 
citizen at the turn-of-the-century. This original structure is a 
variation of the Basic Homestead House constructed in rural 
Illinois by successful farmers and industrial laborers. The house 
was moved to Midway Village in 1982 and a restoration was 
completed in 1987. 



10 PEPPER HOUSE (c. 1890) This Victorian farm house is 

currently under restoration and is not open to the public at this 
time. 

11 MO WRY-BROWN HOUSE (c. 1840) Currently under 
restoration and not open to the public at this tie. 

12 LAW OFFICE (c. 1900) A document press, roll-top desk, 

and authentic law books are typical furnishings of a 19 th century 
lawyer's office. This law office, built in 1979, recreates a turn-of- 
the-century law office common in small, rural Illinois towns. 

13 POLICE STATION (c. 1900) The Police Station houses 

furnishings typical of 19 th century police stations, including a 
paddy wagon, cells, safe, and roll-top desk. The second floor 
features exhibits documenting the history of police service in 
Winnebago County. This station, constructed in 1990, is a %-scale 
reproduction. 

14 OLD STONE SCHOOL Textbooks, ink-stained desks, and 

a wood-burning stove are typical furnishings of a tum-of-the- 
century, rural Illinois school. The desks vary in size because grades 
one through eight were taught in the same room. All students 
studied grammar, spelling, and geography. In 1902, this original 
frame building replaced a limestone structure that burned to the 
ground in Byron, Illinois. In 1977, the school became part of 
Midway Village. 

15 FIRE STATION (c. 1900) Organized fire protection became 

a vital service of Rockford's local government in 1881. The Fire 
Station houses representative furnishings and firefighting 
equipment from the 19 th century. The Fire Station, built inl989, is a 
3 / 4 -scale replica of Fire Station #6 located in Rockford. 

16 TOWN HALL (c. 1874) The Village Town Hall is typical 

of frame buildings built in rural Illinois communities for local 
government al meetings, elections, social gatherings, penny potluck 
suppers, dances and receptions. This town hall originally stood in 
Harlem Village. It became part of Midway Village in 1972. 

17 BARBER SHOP (c. 1860) The Barber Shop is one of the 
buildings exclusive to thimble population of any village. In the 
small hamlet, such as Midway Village, the single chair shop would 
be more than ample to handle even the busiest of days for the local 
barber. WOODWORKER SHOP (c. 1860) The Woodworker 
Shop is the site of all finely finished wood furnishings in the 
village. The finely crafted material to come out of this type of shop 
would range from the dining room set in the Mayor's house to 
coffins. 

18 MIDWAY COMMUNITY BANK (c. 1892) The tellers 

cage, vault and photographs are original turn-of-the-century bank 
furnishings. The Midway Village Bank, originally called the 
Exchange Bank of Holcomb, was established as a private bank on 
July 5, 1892. The Bank was moved to Midway Village in 1975. 




A WELCOME TO ROCKFORD: Discover over 150 years of 
important happenings in the Rockford area. 

B HERITAGE EXHIBITION SERIES - ROCKFORD'S 
; ITALIANS: Celebrating Rockford's Italian community. 

C SOME ENCHANGED EVENING - A CENTURY OF 
WOMEN'S DRESSES: Rarely seem gowns from Midway Village 
& Museum Center's permanent collection. 

D EUREKA! INVENTORS, TINKERS & 
ENTREPRENEURS: Northern Illinois inventors from mid- 19 th 
, century to present day. 

E PLAYBALL! ROCKFORD PEACHES 1943 TO 1954: 

'Rockford's own professional girls' baseball team. 



F FROM SHEEP TO SHAWL: Learn about the art of spinning 
and weaving in this display. 

G FLIGHT: Area aviators and Burt Hassel's 928 airplane are 
featured in this gallery 

H FROM COW TO CONTAINER: ROCKFORD'S DAIRY 
INDUSTRY: Discover Rockford's early dairy industry and milk 
Midway Millie, the mechanical milking cow. 

I ROCKFORD'S INDUSTRIES: Discover the variety of 
products made right here in Rockford and learn about the people 
and companies that made them possible. 

J SWEDISH SINGERS GALLERY: Examine the national 
singing organization, the American Union of Swedish Singers 
Recordings of the Svea Soner Swedish Chorus is played. 



If you enjoyed your visit, ask the receptionist about 

applying today's admission toward a one-year 

Membership in the Museum! 



RENTAL FACILITIES 

Midway Village & Museum Center has the ideal settings for meetings and special occasions. Plan to have your 
family gathering, wedding, bridal shower, business meeting, conference, workshop, organizational meeting, class 

reunion, or company picnic at one of our beautiful rental facilities! 



Celebrate your child's special day with a BIRTHDAY PARTY at MV&MC 

Choose from five different party themes: Victorian Tea Party, I Feel Pretty, Wild West, Down on the Farm, and 

Toy Sawyer/Becky Thatcher 



For information on Special Events and Kids Programming, visit our website at 

www. midwayvillage.com 




19 CARLSON-RUSS GENERAL STORE (c. 1880) The first 
general store opened in Rockford in 1836. China, cigars, coffee, 
and clothing were typical goods of these crowded stores, mainstays 
of 19 century, rural Illinois communities. Typical for many rural 
or small towns in the Midwest, the rear of the general store was the 
local post office with letter drop off and delivery. This full-scale 
replica was built in 1988. 

20 PRINT SHOP (c. 1880) The 3 / 4 -scale reproduction of the 
original Gazette Building, located on State Street in Rockford, was 
built in Midway Village in 1990. 

2 1 IMPLEMENT BUILDING (c. 1890) Closed to public. 

22 BRECKENRIDGE HOUSE (c. 1860) This typical working 
class house contains a combination dining room/parlor, a kitchen, 
and a bedroom. The furnishings are similar to those used in a 
seamstress' house. Originally, the house was part of an Italianate 
House. This portion, removed in 1927, was placed in Midway 
Village in 1982. 

23 HERB GARDEN Basil, Thyme, and Lambs' Ears are 
among the herbs grown in the garden. The garden, representative of 
Victorian herb gardens, has more than fifty varieties of herbs. 

L*\ GAZEBO (c. 1900) Nineteenth century rural communities 
used structures similar to the Gazebo for performances by local 
bands, choruses, and lecturers. 

25 WATER TOWER (c. 1922) In 1906, Sears and Roebuck 
catalogs sold similar wood water towers for $62.25. Rural Illinois 
communities used the towers as water reservoirs. This tower, 
originally used at Rockford 's Camp Rotary Boys' Camp, was 
moved to Midway Village in 1982. 



26 CHAMBERLAIN HOTEL (c. 1860) The original 
Chamberlain Hotel served the crews and passengers of more than 
60 trains passing daily through Caledonia, Illinois. Originally 
known as the Montayne House, the hotel became the Chamberlain 
Hotel in 1 878 when Catherine Chamberlain acquired the property. 
The front doors, parlor doors, staircase spindles and newel post are 
from the original Chamberlain Hotel, which was torn down in the 
1970s. This 3 / 4 -scale reproduction was built in 1984. 

27 MILLHOUSE 



THE HISTORY OF 




WRITTEN BY: 



DEBORAH A. BAILEY KELL 



ROCK VALLEY COLLEGE ENGLISH COM1 



WELCOME TOy 

OUR SCHOO 

MAY YOUR VISIT BE PLEASANT 
AND WORTHWHILE 



ALL VISITORS AND GUESTS ARE REQUIRED 
TO REGISTER AT THE SCHOOL OFFICE 

SPECIAL NOTICE 

,re reloased from the building only through the otf<« 

.„ .bsing or loitering on school premises is strictly 

prohibited. 

ThjnH you for your cooperation 

THE SCHOOL BOARD 



l 



WARNING 

SAFE 

SCHOOL 

ZONE 

Lu have entered A 5AF: 

CRIMINAL PEN 
INCREASED FOR 
AND POSSESION U 

OF DRUGS. V.EAI 

REV! 



SPRING SEMESTER 200 



Keller 1 



Deb Bailey Keller 
ENG 101 NDF 
24 April 2001 



Rock Cut Elementary School 

Come along on a journey as the Ghost of Rock Cut Past, the Ghost of Rock Cut 
Present and the Ghost of Rock Cut Future visit Rock Cut Elementary School. It will be a 
journey filled with facts, fun and even a fish story! 

The Ghost of Rock Cut Past has traveled both in years and location. Rock Cut's 
history dates back nearly half a century. The original Rock Cut was a replacement for 
Harlem Village School. Its location was at the intersection of Harlem Road and Forest 
Hills Road (formerly Route 173) in Loves Park. It was a four- room schoolhouse erected 
in the 1840's. It belonged to District #55. This district, in 1910, decided not to 
consolidate, as did four other districts, to become the Harlem Consolidated School 
District #122 (Espy 50). 

District #55's decision kept them free of consolidation for nearly five decades. It was 
in 1956 that the Illinois Legislature passed a law forcing small school districts that only 
went up to the eighth grade to consolidate with a high school district (Espy 50). 
Webster's dictionary defines consolidate as " to combine into a connected whole; to 
strengthen". Ironically, both districts felt that to consolidate would only weaken them. 
The Harlem Village School felt that they were already a strong and good school. The 
Harlem School District wasn't interested in blending their modern selves in with what 
they saw as a rural, below-standard school. 



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However, the law prevailed and in September of 1957 Harlem Village School opened 
under its new name, Rock Cut Elementary School, with a new principal, Thomas 
Maynard (Espy 50). It became Harlem School District's seventh grade school. With 
only four classrooms, it toted the third lowest enrollment figures of the seven. Of the 
4584 students signed up for school, Rock Cut housed only 1 1 1 of them ("4584 
Students..."). 

The four-room schoolhouse sufficed the district for nearly ten years. However, the 
district's enrollment was growing as rapidly as the city's. By 1966, it was time to let go 
of the old in order to make room the new. A new nineteen- room school was planned to 
replace that of the humble four-roomed (Espy 50). 

On April 9, 1966, Harlem School District taxpayers authorized a $500,000 bond 
issue to pay for the new Rock Cut School and additions to an existing grade school. The 
new school's estimated share of that bond was nearly $350,000 ("Harlem School 
Board..."). 

Orput-Orput & Associates was the architect and engineer for the new nineteen- room 
school building. The school's design was not an original. Rock Cut's floor plan follows 
the same path as the five elementary schools designed and built before it ("Making Way 
For..."). 

The new Rock Cut was built just southwest of the corner across from the original 
school. There was over ten acres of land for the new school. Graham Construction 
Company oversaw the construction. Rock Cut opened for classes in the fall of 1967 
("4584 Students..."). 






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Keller 3 

"Little Rock Cut School", as it was referred, closed down when its replacement 
opened. The district utilized the small four-roomed facility as storage over the next 
twenty-five years. In the early 1990's the building and land were sold. The building was 
razed and the land now stands barren. 

Although the current building is just one story on the exterior, it is filled with many 
stories on the inside. They include stories of fun, stories of mishap and even a fish story. 

Although Rock Cut has over forty-five years worth of fun stories, a few in particular 
stand out. Mrs. Carla Lee, school secretary, stated that one of her most memorable 
memories includes, "When some of the classes had their students come to [the] office and 
sang Happy Birthday to me." Mrs. Mary Carlson's memorable fun moment goes straight 
to the sky. She recalls, "We had a hot air balloon take off from our playground several 
years ago. The whole school of children came out to watch it take off." 

Mrs. Janyce Eviston, a fourth grade Rock Cut teacher since 1982, and Mrs. Jean 
Tieche, a second grade teacher since the school opened in 1967, memories stem from 
moments of mishaps. Mrs. Eviston recalls, "I single-handedly broke the first brand new 
Xerox machine we had." She adds, "How should I know unplugging it would break it?" 

Mrs. Tieche' s two mishaps both involved animals. The first happened on her first 
day of teaching. She remembers, "My first day of teaching- teachers' desks hadn't 
arrived yet, so I left my sack lunch (with a cheese sandwich) in the closet. By lunch - 
time, my sandwich had been eaten on by the field mice! After that, I kept my lunch in a 
student's desk until mine arrived." She also recalled to this author the time a student 
brought a snake in for show and tell. The young second grader assured her that there was 
no way the snake could escape its box. As luck would have it, or not have it, the snake 






























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Keller 4 

was discovered missing, causing the entire class, teacher included, to quickly evacuate 
their classroom until the snake was captured by its young owner and returned to its box. 
Perhaps the snake was after the mouse that was after the cheese sandwich? 

Show and tell could' ve been called show and 'yell' in this memorable moment Mr. 
Frank Guarino, a fourth grade Rock Cut teacher for twenty-eight years, remembered with 
a smile. 

In 1979 at the start of the school day there were blood -curdling screams 
coming from the hall. Running out to see what had happened, we discovered 
a student wanted to show some fish he had caught to his class. His teacher, 
Betty Schoer, was willing to look at the fish, until they jumped out of the 
bucket. She then became hysterical, started screaming and jumping up and 
down, as the two fish flopped around on the hall floor. We all got a good 
laugh out of that incident. 
For many teachers, memorable moments are made from the very students they teach. 
Mrs. Kathy Ragsdale says, "Although it's not a 'moment' I have always loved seeing the 
progress academically and socially that kids make as they go through the school year." 
Mrs. Evelyn Bue states, "I will also remember the many fine young people who have 
attended Rock Cut." 

Mrs. Sharon Batchelor says, from her heart, "Every day provides memorable 
moments. My students are children from grades 1-4 with special needs. Memorable 
moments include when someone finally 'gets' or understands something new for the first 
time or when a child learns to read." Mrs. Lanelle Schoonmaker says, "Every year in 
first grade is memorable as each of the children begins to read. You know the world has 





















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opened up for that child. The first year I was in first grade (teaching), 1992-to present, 
was especially emotional for me as the children began to read." 

The Ghost of Rock Cut Present shares very little with the Ghost of Rock Cut Past. It 
lacks the memories and the journey of its predecessor. 

Journeying to Rock Cut Elementary School is fairly easy. The school sits near the 
intersection of Forest Hills Road and Harlem Road in Loves Park. It is approximately 
one mile south of the Rockford Speedway. When driving from the direction of the 
famous NASCAR racetrack, only one stoplight will stand in the way. The lights are at 
Harlem Road and Forest Hills Road. In the Northeast corner of that intersection is the 
vacant lot where 'Little Rock Cut' once stood. The new Rock Cut is visible from this 
intersection. 

The first drive of the school is clearly marked "Do Not Enter", leaving the second 
open for its patrons and visitors. Enter the horseshoe drive and follow it around to the 
parking lot. There is parking in front of the crabapple trees. To tour the outside grounds 
of the school, head west on foot towards the blacktop pathway. Be especially careful 
where the parking lot ends and the pathway begins because there is a steep slope. 

Once at the bottom of the slope, part of the school's building sticks out. By peeking 
into the narrow window the room is easily be identified. The new rock wall, tumbling 
mats and basketball hoops give it away as being the gymnasium. 

Once finishing the peek, continue on the path as it rounds the school towards the 
right. Here is a view of the soccer field. The white goal posts protrude up from the 
grassy field like the quills of a frightened porcupine. As the curve continues fully around 
the corner, a wide variety of playground equipment is exposed. 















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The path leads directly to a large blacktop play area. There is a basketball hoop 
at each end as well as four-square games painted in yellow in stark contrast to the 
blackened pavement. The fourth-through-sixth-grade children's playground is to the left. 
The first-through-third-grade play area is to the right. 

A cement sidewalk adjoins the blacktop play area on the opposite side. Following 
the walkway east and then south leads to the front of the school. Here sits a cement- 
raised slab that holds the front doors of the school. To the left of the doors sits a large 
concrete plant box that holds green shrubbery. The color brings warmth to the coldness 
of the gray cement. Off to the side stands a tall, proud flagpole. For added safety there is 
a green chain linked fence separating the horseshoe drive from the sidewalk in order to 
separate the children from the vehicles. 

Safety has always been a priority for Rock Cut. Due to its location on a very 
traveled and busy Forest Hills Road, a walkway was constructed that connects Rock Cut 
with the side street, Devon Ave. It is a blacktopped walkway with a ten- foot fence on 
either side. This author recalls a very mean dog that used to live on the other side of one 
of the fences. Its bark always made ones feet scurry along quicker than usual! 

Proud not only describes the flagpole that sits outside the school, but the attitude and 
atmosphere of the school inside as well. There are over twenty teachers and just as many 
support staff. Half of those have taught at Rock Cut for at least twenty years! Mr. Frank 
Guarino describes the staff from 1973 as "wild, young and conscientious." He feels the 
staff of 2001 is' "aging, dedicated and conscientious." Ms. Kathy Ragsdale, a Rock Cut 
third grade teacher for over thirty years describes the staff in 1970 to be, "young and 
eager." She feels the current staff is "dedicated and caring." 



























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Keller 7 

Could the teachers be wiser because of the better material they are provided with or 
is the material better because they are wiser? Mrs. Fugiel, a teacher for thirty years, felt 
the material of the past to be "limited." Mrs. Miller adds that the material was "mainly 
text books supplemented with worksheets." As for the material in the present, Mrs. 
Fugiel feels it is "diversified." Mrs. Miller boasts of "larger selections, (with) classroom 
sets of novels and math manipulatives." 

Material is only as good as the ability of the students that manipulate it. Mr. Jim 
Stephens, current principal of Rock Cut, describes the family life of students to be made 
of "more single parents and grandparents raising children." Mrs. Carla Lee agrees with 
Mr. Stephens and adds that children today are "more verbally bold" than those of the 
past. Mrs. Jean Tieche expressed that the students she taught when she first started were 
"respectful and focused." Her students in the progressing years have been more 
"independent, social and loud." Mrs. Sue Lewandowski, a second grade teacher, feels 
that the students in recent years have had "more behavior problems." When she first 
started in 1974, the children possessed a higher "respect for learning." Mrs. Lynn Nybo, 
a fourth grade teacher, feels student family life to be "rougher" then previous years and 
adds that discipline is "frustrating, lacking and limited." 

Controversy erupts like a spewing volcano when the topic of school-enforced 
discipline comes up. The old way of discipline was corporal punishment. Spanking was 
used to keep children in line. Stepping out of line was like stepping right into the flow of 
hot lava. One blow of the paddle was as effective as one touch of molten lava. Both 
hurt. Both taught a lesson. Parent complaints, state laws and many other forces have put 



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Keller 8 

a solid cap on the volcano of corporal punishment. Mrs. Beverly Neff, a twenty-six year 
veteran of teaching describes current punishment as "inconsistent, lenient and gentler." 

The Ghost of Rock Cut Present has provided the school with a true 'present', 
technological advances reflecting the current times. Mrs. Evelyn Bue, a teacher at Rock 
Cut since 1969, remembers "record players, overhead projectors and filmstrip 
projectors." Those have now been replaced with computers and printers, which she feels, 
are, "often unreliable." Ms. Ragsdale feels, "technology especially is not as important at 
the primary level." 

On the contrary, Mr. Guarino states: 

I would like to see a computer lab for the students. I would like the lab to 
instruct the students on the use of a computer and the school's programs 
available to the school. Then the classroom computers could be used to 
reinforce lessons and for research projects 
As far as the actual classrooms, Mrs. Mary Carlson, a teacher at Rock Cut for 
twenty-six years, feels that current rooms are "old and need remodeling." Mrs. Miller 
agrees and adds that they are "dirty, with replacement of desks and blackboards 
necessary." Perhaps the Ghost of Rock Cut Present can team up with Mr. Clean and 
spiffy up the classrooms. 

The Ghosts of Rock Cut Future, taking the form of teachers and staff, have many 
predictions for the school. Mrs. Fugiel predicts, "In three to five years, I predict a 
massive change in faculty due to retirements of an aging group." Mrs. Miller not only 
agrees, but also adds, "Hopefully a new staff of very young teachers will bring about 
some new innovations." Mrs. Tieche adds, 






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Keller 9 

...enthusiastic well-trained young teachers contribute much to a building and 
its staff. New ideas force professional and personal growth as well as 
tolerance and acceptance. Hopefully there will be a gradual enough change 
that 'master and rookie' will blend successfully. 
Mrs. Schoonmaker feels, "Rock Cut will continue to do an exceptional job of 
educating students. It has a competent staff and many caring parents. Rock Cut stays 
very traditional and stable but has added technology to keep up to date. It has a good 
balance." 

Some teachers predict population- related changes. Ms. Ragsdale sees, "continued 
growth for Rock Cut as the area becomes more developed with homes and young families 
settling here. We will be overcrowded soon; portable classrooms and/or a new 
elementary school may soon be necessary. "Mrs. Batchelor adds, "We need to pass a 
referendum because our classes are getting too large. Mrs. Neff feels with the growing 
enrollment, "...the district will have to change the boundaries again." 

The journey is complete, but the history, memories and stories continue being made 
at Rock Cut. The Ghosts will probably never be seen, but always can be felt. 









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My name is Deb Bailey Keller. Some of you may know me as mother of Stephanie, 
Jennifer and Emily Bailey. Perhaps as step-mother of David, Erich and Alan Keller. 
Maybe... just maybe you remember me as one of the four Haskell girls that attended Rock 
Cut a few years ago. (A few being 25 that is.) Here is my fourth grade picture: 







I am currently taking English 101 through Rock Valley College. I am just getting 
underway towards earning a teaching degree. Our English class is focusing on one subject 
throughout the semester. I have chosen Rock Cut as my subject. 



Attached is a questionnaire that, with your help, will help me towards completion of 
my final essay. I would greatly appreciate if you would please take a moment or two to 
fill this out. You can return it to me via Emily in 1st grade, Alan in 2nd grade, Jennifer 
and Erich in fourth grade or David in fifth grade. 



If you are interested, I will gladly share my essay with you upon completion. I thank 
you very much for your time and help! 



Sincerely, 

Deb Bailey Keller TJ 



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1 . When did you begin at Rock Cut? 
§fl 2. What is one, or more, of your most memorable moments at Rock Cut? 



3. If you could change anything about Rock Cut, what would you change? 



tit 



4. Choose three words each that best describe the following: 

(present day) & (when you started) 

a. discipline policy 

(Rock Cut's) 

b. Harlem School 

District 

c. parent involvement 

d. Rock Cut- inside 

e. Rock Cut- outside 

f. staff 

g. student behavior 

h. student's family life 
i. teaching material 
j. technology 

5. What do you predict for Rock Cut's near future? 



Works Cited 

"4584 Students Answer Harlem's School Bell." The Post 05 September 1957. 

Bailey Keller, Deb. Personal Experience. April 2001. 

Bailey Keller, Deb. Photographer. April 2001. 

Batchelor, Sharon. Written questionnaire. 20 March 2001. 

Bue, Evelyn. Written questionnaire. 20 March 2001. 

Carlson, Mary. Written questionnaire. 20 March 2001. 

Espy, Charles. "History of Public Education in Winnebago County." Rockford, Illinois: 

Charles Espy. 1967. 
Eviston, Janyce. Written questionnaire. 20 March 200 1 . 
Fugiel, Cathy. Written questionnaire. 20 March 2001. 
Guarino, Frank. Written questionnaire. 20 March 2001. 
"Harlem School Bond Vote on April 9 th ." The Post 03 January 1966. 
Lee, Carla. Written questionnaire. 20 March 2001. 
Lewandowski, Sue. Written questionnaire. 20 March 2001. 
"Making Way For Progress." Monday Morning Mail 27 July 1967. 
Miller, Carol. Written questionnaire. 20 March 2001. 
Neff, Beverly. Written questionnaire. 20 March 2001. 
"New Rock Cut School Area Set." Monday Morning Mail 24 August 1967. 
Nybo, Lynn. Written questionnaire. 20 March 2001. 
Ragsdale, Kathy. Written questionnaire. 20 March 2001. 
Schoonmaker, Lanelle. Written questionnaire. 24 April 2001. 
Stephens, Jim. Written questionnaire. 20 March 200 1 . 
Tieche, Jean. Written questionnaire. 20 March 2001. 









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SWEDISH-AMERICAN HOSPITAL 



DREAM TO REALITY 



MARY PUHL 



SPRING SEMESTER 2001 
ROCK VALLEY COLLEGE 
ENGLISH COMPOSITION 1 



Puhl 1 

SWEDISH-AMERICAN 

Swedish- American Hospital, Rockford, IL has been a part of Northern Illinois 
since 1918, and is still growing. 

In 1911, the idea to have a Swedish hospital was the hope of many people. There 
were many immigrants from Sweden coming to Rockford. The city was growing very 
steadily. Rockford was known as "The City of Swedes". A Swedish language newspaper, 
the "Svenska Posten ", informed their readers' everyday life and of the growing need for a 
Swedish hospital. A second newspaper, the Rockford-Posten , also helped the 22,000 
Swedish- American citizens in Rockford to stay informed (Rockford). 

Swede Editor Carl Hjalmar Lundquist wrote about the need for a Swedish 
hospital. O. F. Nison responded by a letter urging all Swedes to put a dollar in a fund to 
start a hospital. With the overwhelming response the Swedish-American Association was 
formed (Nelson). 

Having the location of the hospital in the heart of the Swedish business 
district would be ideal. In 1912, land was purchased for $1 1,500 to build the new 
hospital. Local immigrants donated the money. In the next year three acres of land was 
purchased on the present Charles Street. Construction began by contractor Gust Holm on 
a new fifty-five-bed hospital (Swedish- American). After $175,000 and six years, the 
hospital was completed. On July 17, 1918, the hospital doors were opened ("Swedish"). 

Mrs. J. G. Prowed was the first patient at Swedish-American. Mrs. 
Prowed was admitted for surgery, and stayed for eleven days. Her total cost was $40.00 
(Greenland). On August 29, 1918, the first baby was born Clarence Pearson at Swedish- 
American. September 1, 1919, the Hospital Board organized the program to offer young 



Puhl2 

women the scientific education, moral discipline, and practical experience and the School 
of Nursing was opened (Greenland). The first graduating class of nurses was in 1922. 
As the school grew with new students each year, and to meet the needs of the students 
there was a nursing facility built, just north of the hospital in 1945. Which was torn down 
in the summer of 2000, to make room for the new emergency room and parking lot. Then 
a second unit was completed in 1946, to the northwest of the hospital ("Swedish"). 

By 1942, extension to the west of the hospital was completed, bringing the total 
bed count to one hundred and twenty-five beds. In 1953, addition to the east of the 
hospital was completed bringing the bed count to two hundred. Expansion to the parking 
lots, which increased the capacity to seventy-five vehicles, took place in 1955. 

Swedish- American Hospital at this time was "Considered the Modern Hospital" 
("Swedish"). In witch two hundred patients could be cared for at one time. Automatic 
elevators were installed along with the ambulance entrance, and emergency generator, so 
the hospital would not go without electricity. Two huge boilers were also installed, so 
there was an endless supply of hot water. In 1954, TVs were installed in the Pediatric 
Department. By 1955, patient call lights were available at each bedside ("Swedish"). 

In 1963, The King of Sweden attended the dedication to the new ten-story 
addition to enlarge the capacity to three hundred thirty inpatient beds (Star). It took six 
years before the new addition would be completed. The main floor offices were air- 
conditioned. The Psychiatric unit was opened and Obstetric Department expanded. Then 
in 1969, the seventh and eight floors were completed for patient care, being built six 
years earlier (Greenland). Author was born at Swedish- American on December 1 1,1969 
(Puhl) 



Puhl 3 

In 1972, the Pediatric Cardiology unit opened, and Occupational Therapy Service 
was established. In 1973, floors nine and ten were completed. The Surgical pavilion was 
built in 1975, to perform open-heart surgery. In 1979, the new emergency facility was 
opened with twenty-four emergency beds (Greenland). 

The first Angioplasty was performed in 1980. A newly expanded Pediatric ICU, 
from a four-bed unit expanded to eight beds. The helicopter pad was constructed on the 
roof of the fourth floor. Valet parking service for outpatient visit was available. A hotel 
was opened on the fourth floor with eight rooms to help accommodate family and friends 
from out of town to be closer to their loved ones. A new nursery was constructed for the 
well and sick newborns. Author son was born at Swedish- American on June 10, 1987 
(Puhl). The tenth floor was redesigned to house adolescents. Outpatient Daycare surgery 
was expanded. Revamping of the parking lot took place again to accommodate the 
growing needs (Greenland). 

Cardiology was the most new procedures invented in the 1990s. Elextrophsiolgy 
testing was evolved. Cardiopulmonary Support System was put to use, also known as the 
"balloon pump" in witch a patient can buy some time before they may go in for bypass or 
stent. Coronary Atherectomy was introduced, were the cardiologist cleans the plague out 
of the artery. Then in 1992, the Outpatient Angio Center opened with a new addition to 
the north side of the hospital ("Swedish"). Author begins working at Swedish-American 
(Puhl). In the late 1990s, Swedish- American hospital purchased Camelot Towers. There 
is a tunnel underground of the hospital that connects the hospital and Camelot together 
which makes it a great access for patient use with the departments that are located in 
either building. 



Puhl4 

In 1997, Swedish- American was recognized for "Center of Excellence Project", 
and "Top 100" in the country. Then in 2000, a national database evaluating clinical 
outcomes named Swedish- American "Best in Hearts", by having all the latest inventions 
being used to help save lives without having to do bypass surgery (Swedish Summary). 
Construction also started on a new emergency room, new main entrance, and an updated 
broiler room to accommodate the increase of patients on daily basics. 

Swedish- American has served the Rockford area for over eighty-three years and 
is still growing. In 2002, phase one of the new construction will be completed. Charles 
Street will be revamped and there will be more waiting spaces in the emergency room for 
family and friends. This will helped to remodel the rest of the hospital to keep it up to 
date. In the next few years it is expected that Swedish-American will be connected with 
Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. This will help a lot of patients who will not have to travel 
from home and be able to have the care that they need in the local hospital. 



Puhl5 

Works Cited 

Greenland, Paul. Personal Interview Swedish-American Hospital, Rockford, IL.26 Feb 

2001. 

Nelson, C. Hal. Sinnissippi: A History of Rockford and Winnabago CountyJUinois 

Rockford, IL: Winnebago County Illinois Sesquicentennial Committee, 1968. 354. 

Swedish- American Hospital The Challenge No Date. 

Star Newspaper 27 March 1963. 

Swedish-American Summary Report 1999-2000 7 September 2000. 






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George M. Edblom, administrated of Swedish-American '.'Hospital* for 1G : years, views,* tow 
, [maze of steelwork for* 10-story hospital addition, which will be;i backdrop ;fof|^tw6'-day$pro 
.Saturday and Sunday, June 10 and 11, tcTmark the ;:-50tb;'anniversary of granting of|thefhos[- 



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Moments of Time: 

History of the Times Theater 

By 

David Diaz 

Spring Semester 2001 

Rock Valley College Composition I 









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David Diaz 
7 May 2001 
English 101 



Moments of Time 



The Beginning of Time 

At the time of its construction, Rockford was very much alive with entertainment 
and the movie industry was very young. I remember my Grandfather speaking of 
western stars like Roy Rogers and Gale Evans, and he also poked jokes as how the 
cowboys would shot their guns throughout the movie without having to reload. With 
memories like that its' no wonder that in 1937, The Times Theater opened its doors to the 
public waiting to see their favorite silver screen star compete with bad acting and amateur 
movie making. It was no surprise to movie enthusiast, after all it was announced that 
these flicks were second run and it only cost a quarter to get in. That was many, many 
years ago and I was just a sparkle in my Grandfathers eye. The low price of admission is 
how the Times competed with other theaters. A family could easily spend an afternoon 
shopping in the Rockford Downtown area, and take in a movie without having to take out 
a mortgage or sell their livestock. This was attractive to the residents of Winnebago 
County since the nation was just coming out of the Great Depression. 

The Times Theater began construction in 1937 to replace the Orpheum Theater, 
which closed its doors on 30 June 1937 and was located on 100 North Main Street. In its 
place the S.H. Kress Company built a department store that stayed open through the mid- 
seventies. The Times was the first building to be fully constructed in this area by Union 
























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workers in 1937 and lead by general contractors, Lundin and Grip. Years before the 
construction of the Times, that spot was chosen for its central location in the city's loop, 
where at once acted as a parking lot for years. 

The designing of the building came from Max Leibling who also was responsible 
for the construction of the Auburn Theater, once located on the northwest side of town on 
Auburn and North Main Street and erected in 1940. According to Glen Turpoff They Too 
Cast Shadows, Max Leibling was born in Austria in 1 883 and emigrated to the United 
States in 1910 and worked his way from New York City to Rockford as a window 
washer. Mr. Leibling was also credited with the development of the LaFayette Hotel and 
the IBM building. 

When the Times Theater finally opened their doors on Thursday, 31 March 1938, 
a year after its start of construction, The Rockford Morning Star printed all of the firms 
that had a part in the buildings construction, and they are as follows: 



Alf Johnson & Son 
Axel Ericson Electric Co. 
David Carlson Roofing Co. 
Grip Brothers 
Lundin & Grip 
Nelson Plumbing 



Carpentry work 
Wiring and fixtures 
Roof 
Plastering 
Mason Work 
Heating and Cooling 



Rockford Plate & Window Glass Glass, Mirrors, Alumilite Metal 



Rockford Plumbing Shop 
Theodore Peterson 



Plumbing Fixtures and Equipment 
Metal Lathing and Furring 
























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The Times Theater interior was designed to gain optimal sound with the unique 
walls and ceiling. In December 1937 issue of The Rockford Morning Star, there is a 
quote written about the technique of the interior application: 

"In order to insure perfect acoustics, the back wall of the theater has been covered with 
spray-o-flex, which has 80 percent sound absorption. This material has a base of spun 
glass, blown on to a depth of two inches and then flattened out. A special casine paint, 
with milk as its base was used over this to prevent the filling of the tiny cells, which 
absorb the sound. On the ceilings and the sidewall panels, kaylite was used. This 
material is about 50 percent as sound absorbing as the material used on the back wall. 
Through this system, both high and low frequency sounds are absorbed". 

<Rockford Morning Star December 1937> 
The President of the Times Theater, Van Matre Jr., announced the opening of the theater 
on Thursday afternoon at 12:30p on March 31, 1938 with the showing of "Thoroughbreds 
Don't Cry", starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland along with a Metrotone News 
report (The 1930's version of 60 Minutes) and a Popeye cartoon. The price of admission 
was twenty-five cents for adults and ten cents for children and the theater seats one 
thousand people. 

The Times Struggles 

There was a time when all the theaters in town turned off their lights for one hour 
in protest for the introduction to Pay TV back in summer of 1969. The Times, The 
Coronado, The State, and The Midway all participated in the blackout by turning off their 
lighted marquees for two hours beginning at 7:00pm back on April 25, 1969. Think of all 















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the Pay television stations there are today, and then notice the movie industry breaking 
box office records. I believe that building huge theaters that have multiple screens and 
superb surround sound systems has helped the movie industry become profitable. This of 
course means the end of smaller theaters such as the Times, Midway, and the State 
theaters, but it means more money for the industry and better visual effect movies to 
entertain the public. 

From the time the Times opened its doors back in the late 1930's, it has gone 
through a few changes, such as the marquee on the front of the building as well as its 
owners. In May 1974, the Plitt Theater Inc. bought the Times from The American 
Broadcast Company for $25 million dollars, which included the purchase of 121 other 
theaters in 12 states including the Midway Theater here in Rockford. The Plitt Theaters 
were well known in this area and at the time of purchase the company was fairly new. 
The new owner of the Times was Henry G. Plitt who previously held the position of 
president with the ABC Company when this purchase occurred. 

Over fifty years had passed since the doors of The Times Theater opened, and 
about twenty years since it has closed. It sat quietly in the middle of downtown Rockford 
watching the community grow and other theaters demolished to make room for growth. 
The State Theater was demolished to make room for an apartment building and the 
Midway sits idle with special performances appearing from time to time. The Coronado 
Theater was one of the lucky ones that made it through the decades of depression and 
change. Thanks to the Friends of the Coronado who raised enough money to restore the 
original beauty and design to help the Coronado open its doors once again in 2001. 



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At one time downtown was the busy side of town. With places to shop like 
Woolworths and Kress along with Busch Jewelers, it seemed as though the center of the 
city was very much alive. Then came the hard times of the 1970's. Due to economic 
stagnate, Rockford's growth and economy had slowed down and workers were being laid 
off, and factories were being shut down. It was the second Great Depression and 
Rockford was not immune to its effects. People stood in long lines at the unemployment 
office, and also in lines where food was being distributed to receive assistance. This 
author remembers those times to be rough as my own family experienced lack of work 
and money. Depressing images of store after store in the downtown area closing down or 
moving to an area where there was more traffic. Then to make matters worse, streets 
leading into the downtown area were closed off to build a mall. That construction slowed 
down business to downtown and blocked off any hopes off reviving that area. The 
Downtown Mall project was constructed to attract more shoppers as a place to park your 
car and shop the mall. With the seventies depression hitting hard, the crime rate also took 
off and people were afraid to venture into the area. It seemed as if the businesses were 
doomed and without the main street that was once opened, there is was no easy access to 
businesses, and no stopping in to catch a movie at the Times. Downtown had become a 
ghost town and everything closed. In 1983, the Times Theater followed in the path of 
economic destruction and closed its doors. 

Time for a Change 

When Max Liebling constructed the Times Theater, what he had in mind for the 
building was to bring people in of all ages to spend some time in an aired conditioned 









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movie house with sound absorbent walls and state-of-the-art architecture that allows 
sound to flow evenly within the auditorium (the 1930's version of Dolby Surround 
Sound). Stores attached to the Times building attracted families to shop and then maybe 
take in a movie. It was the perfect afternoon for families to share together. The Times 
was constructed for pleasurable movie viewing and Mr. Liebling's design for the theater 
assured that it would be comfortable and relaxing. 

During the 1990's, the Times were still standing along with its neighbor, the 
Coronado. Movie theaters have become bigger and better. Huge movie screens and 
surround sound attract moviegoers of today. It is a shame that this generation never got 
to appreciate the old movie theater buildings that had their own distinguishing character 
that set them apart from any other movie theater of the present day. 

The survival of the Times was due to its new owner, Dante Leoni. He saw a 
vision in this prehistoric building and slowly began it reconstruction. Mr. Leoni wanted 
to create an atmosphere where people can come together a have a great time. People of 
all color, size, and religion did not matter and should never be a factor. Come and spend 
some time at the Times is his invitation to anyone who will come. In Leoni's ownership, 
the Times building approached obstacles with the age and condition of this place, not to 
mention the economic condition of downtown Rockford, made this project to reopen the 
Times almost impossible. Luckily there was already a project to revive the downtown 
area with the reopening of the Coronado Theater and more and more businesses were 
occupying some of the buildings left behind in the 1980's. Coffee Houses, Attorney 
Offices, and a few restaurants like Paragon and Happy Wok started filling those empty 
stores of yesteryear. Finally there was some life and growth being experienced in the 



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area, and the Times had hoped to draw in people. The Times stands today after years of 
doubt and neglect and economic struggles. It has become a place to go and have a 
cocktail or dance on the huge dance floor where the blue coral seats were once and it still 
sports the same movie screen that used to show second run movies. A bar called the 
Boulevard has been added to the Times along with a teenage nightclub on Saturday 
nights that attract young people and gives them a place to go. I am sure that by the time I 
finish writing this report, there will be another idea spawned by the Times owner, Dante 
to attract more people into his unique environment. 

Personal Accounts 

There are many historical structures in the Rockford area that I could have written 
about, but there are some things about this place that always draws me back to it. Maybe 
it is all the Saturdays that I had invested at this place as a youth watching second run 
movies, or perhaps every time I drive by this theater it reminds me of a more simple time 
in my life. Either way this building triggers many memories that I would forever 
treasure. 

I was born and raised in Rockford, the third born in a family of seven, and I can 
always recall my childhood pretty clear. My family lived on 207 Horseman Street and it 
was about four blocks form downtown Rockford. Every Saturday I can remember getting 
up and eating a bowl of cereal while watching cartoons and fighting over the cheap toy 
that came out of the cereal box with my two brothers. We then got dressed and waited 
for my mother to wake up and give us all two dollars apiece so we could spend the day 
downtown. I was only eight at the time and had to rely on my brothers to handle my 



8 

money. It was the early 1970's and at the time it was safe enough for us three to walk 
four blocks by ourselves. 

We would get to the edge of downtown and decide what to do. Would we buy 
comic books at Book World and then a hot dog for sixty-nine cents, or should we go see 
a movie at the Times Theater? It was always a tough decision to make because in 
downtown Rockford there was always something to do. Eventually we would see a 
movie for seventy-five cents and still had enough money to buy popcorn. Upon entering 
the theater, we stared at the movie posters that once appeared outside the theater and if it 
were an overcast day, they would have the marquee lights on outside. Just inside the 
doors we spotted the candy and popcorn counter and made a mad dash towards it. I 
remember being very careful how my brothers spent my two dollars because I wanted 
twenty-five cents left over so that I could buy the latest issue of Detective Comics 
featuring Batman. Once inside the theater we picked our seats, which were always next 
to each other and start chomping on the popcorn. The theater walls were blue and the 
carpet was a thick bright red with the chairs were very comfortable. It never failed. After 
the popcorn was gone and the lights went out, I fell asleep. I will always cherish those 
memories of my two brothers and me sharing an afternoon together at the Times. 

Years later, I find myself back at the same place I had shared an afternoon 
watching a second rate movie with my brothers. This time the owner of the Times Is 
making the building into something much more than a theater, a dance club. I had the 
honor of being a disc jockey at the Times Dance Club and a lot of memories came back 
to me. As I play music, the people dancing and having a good time do not realize that the 
building use to be a movie theater. The dance floor that they are dancing on was full of 






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blue seats and the movie screen that is displaying weird images like the ones you would 
see in a lava lamp, used to show movies from a much simpler time. It is great that I was 
able to witness the life that Dante had put back into this building that was taking a back 
seat to the Coronado. 

Here is some new news, on 1 June 2001, Rock Valley College and the Mass 
communications department will be showing a student film at the Times Theater. It will 
be RVC's first film ever and the first film to be shown at the Times since 1983. People 
cannot wait to see the theater being used to show a movie once again. 



Conclusion 

It has been a long time since the Times opened and hopefully it will never close. 
This building has brought me so many memories and it has seen Rockford's history. The 
development that is going on in downtown Rockford was happening all around the 
Times. It seemed as this place that started as a parking lot, and grew into a movie house 
and then a dance club, defied all the odds and survived through two depressions and an 
industry that has shifted away from single theaters to buildings that house up to sixteen 
screens. The Times Building was a building and design ahead of its time with the Kaylite 
Panels installed for optimal sound and absorption. The front marquee was the first of its 
kind in the Rockford area with its neon lights and Broadway appeal. The one thing that 
these decades had in common with each other is taking a building and giving it character 
for all to enjoy for hopefully years to come. 




































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In the years to come I am hoping that some of the downtown attractions such as 
the Times Theater, The Coronado, and the Midway Theater will always be there for our 
children to wonder how the past generations could have viewed a movie so primitively 
without a giant screen and a monstrous sound system to blow away our minds? I will just 
tell them that if they had the pleasure of entering these buildings when they were at their 
prime, their experience would have lasted forever. 

End 



Works Cited 

Cunningham, Pat. "Rockford, Big Town, Little City" book published 2000 

Diaz, David. Personal Accounts April 2001 

Glen Turpoff. "They Too Cast Shadows" book published c. 1999 

Leoni, Dante. Interview. 24 March 2001 

Nelson, Hal. " We the People" 1975 book published c. 1977 

Rockford Morning Star . Spring Article 1937; Picture 1937 

Rockford Register Star . 11 November Article 1994; Picture 11 November 1994 

Rowe, Ford F. "Rockford Streamlined", 1834-1941 book published c. I940's 



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The new , Times theater, modernistic in design 
and In treatment both outside and "inside, 'will' 
be opened to the public Thursday," March. 31, it 
was announced yesterday . by Willard Van Matre, 



•_£_ — Morning Star photo. 

president of the operating company. ' Above is 
shown the modernistic canopy and entrance' to 
the theater. , Workmen were adding the final 
touches yesterday. r- ■• 



Name Savage Firm 

As General Agent 1 

Appointment of the Savage In- 
surance agency, 711_Talcott build- 
ing, as general agent in this ter- 
ritfry^far the Minnesota Mutual I another company until recently. His 

^mimmimSmm ■ - -- - - oi ■ ■<u l .-,- .,-.n comprise 11 nor- 



who has been -in the casualty and 

fire insurance business here the last 

eight years. 

C. S. Rathbone. who will head 
• the new life insurance department, 
'was division manager for seven 
j states in the Mississippi valley for 



1i 



Girl Is Injured, ' 

Mary Jane Olson, 19, J618 Kish- 

waukee street, suffered the -loss or j ' 

the fingernail on her right hand L 
rinp finder when it became caught L 
infa door of a downtown store last L 
night. 1 - The~~TIp— of the finger was [* 
also fractured. She receiv&d treat^tt 



' 






' W wm mt& m m t* - 



■ »..-., *■'■■_: ■■>--. 



M 



?mm. 



want to install removable chairs. 
And it will be next year before 
they have paid off the theater. 

Meanwhile, the storefronts are 
ready and available for rent. Also, 
the art deco beauty- of the theater 
is still there, with funky light 
fixtures and curved walls. 



"There are no corners. It has 
beautiful curves. It just Hows." j 
Ix^oni said. 

And so do the ideas for the ] 
theater's use, including con- 
ventions. movies, receptions and 

dances. £« 3*^ i »-(,-<? if, T<L ! 

"The possibilities are ehdless. 
Everybody has an idea. We want 
to take the best ideas. Nothing's 
excluded right now." 




"•WTO 



; Rtt*^3J=3 



-f^^fcri. 





j ^ i, -V] ii-r "ti- 1 . ., ' ■ ti i . ' 't ■ ■ i . 






IV, ;»'i; ■■■ 



Coronado Theatre 



WM Backgrounds Opened Oct. 9, ^'i;\ 
*?1927,,with a; vaudeville; show arid the' 
SJrhovie Svwnx ^ISwfcBuilt far $1.5 
fimillion and halledas a "Wonder y <,■ 

^Theater," ? ; v-; ::^S : V- ■■•;-: ■ - '-;•> • :■ 
&&; 'i> ■-■ ^y^vvr^^V-^w' -it--. ;.:^'',v 
|y t ■ Highlighted rtrsfetheater to bring 
ptalkiesrito, focal scjr&enst In: 1979^ % 
Itoeqamei the thtfdl|^^or^;si^; to be ? 
fisted iri tfte tyati&iarRegfetef of ,~{\?r;'- 
1 Historic ^ace4i|be^ridf IhKer^wjss ^ 

p^lebf^pfcrforl^^ 
|Gobdrnanl G^iyHflej;:^nk^lo*tira. 
i iiouis Armstrdngi Tallulah Bankheac|r>; 
tthe Marx Brothers, Vincent PriceiBob' 
4Py1an, Vtctof Borge and David tf •? ; 



' 



Times neater 



I; ■ Background: Opened in 1937. ?|| 
v 650;seat venue. Purchased by ;V . ; i;| 
^Chicago-based Plijtt Theatres Inctip , :,:i 
^1974. Began losing money; duetto its f 
1 location and owners "Inability to attract ;| 
ffirstratefilrns^^^ 
$ Closed In February 1983, one weeki | 
Rafter Plitt opened four theaters in : '.•/&! 
SCherryvaleMall.J^ 
Pa^H Fox^c^erbf^e Pride of 
RocWord|)USt; reopened ill July 1988; 
-cstsed in>1989. :PA»rc|fei$"ed by Dante 
pLeoni in : i99i.^t^ : ^ 1 : '';';;>: --.'; 



'•Si* 

«1 



1 1 m Highllghte:.Drew:lo^ljrws i v of J-' ? 

j 1 people intheja^|.960s andeari^)- ;j 

p1970s with'sdfhew^e best fijms in " 

thecountry.^-5^tunU^- < r7t * c 

■ - ; ■ Current use: Available for private 
| parlies,' undergoing renovation: > 






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